Google Assistant keyboard key may come to other Chromebooks – CNET

Google Pixelbook

Google’s new Pixelbook has a dedicated button for the Assistant.

James Martin/CNET

Google on Wednesday unveiled a new premium Chromebook called the Pixelbook. The keyboard of the $1,000 convertible laptop and tablet has one key with a bunch of dots on it. It’s a dedicated key for accessing the Google Assistant digital helper. (The dots are the Assistant logo.)

Right now it’s just on the Pixelbook, but that Assistant button could start showing up on other Chromebooks too, Kan Liu, a senior director of product management at Google, said during an interview Wednesday in San Francisco.  

“Right now it’s still early. We didn’t want to force people to add a key,” he said, when asked if the key is coming to other Chromebooks. “In the long term, I do expect — we’re going to offer it as an option” to hardware makers.

Google has been trying to put its Assistant, a rival to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, in more devices, including phones, speakers and headphones. Putting a key on more Chromebook keyboards would mean Google is pushing to make it a mainstay on more laptops — especially among students and in schools, where Chromebooks are popular.

The Pixelbook is a high-end version of Google’s laptops, but Chromebooks are typically known for their low cost. They’re a niche gadget, used mostly in the education market. Last year, Chromebooks were the No. 1 mobile device sold in schools, with 58 percent of the market, according to Futuresource Consulting. They beat out both Microsoft and Apple devices.

Google also unveiled a slew of other devices Wednesday, including new versions of its flagship Pixel phone and a standalone camera called the Google Clips.

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