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New Suit Accuses Google Of Stifling Voice Recognition Competitors

 |  April 6, 2022

Search engine behemoth Google was hit with federal antitrust litigation in DC, over claims the tech giant leverages its market dominance to block most major electronic devices from simultaneously running multiple apps that use different voice assistant “wakewords,” reported Bloomberg.

The lawsuit accuses the company of erecting “artificial” barriers—through its Android operating system, pacts with manufacturers, and a side deal with Apple—restricting “concurrent wakeword” technology that could lead consumers to search engines other than Google.

Google has told device makers that it won’t allow them to run the company’s Google Assistant if they simultaneously offer access to competing voice assistants. For Sonos, this means that its customers have to choose between making Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant the default voice assistant for its microphone-equipped smart speakers.

 Sonos has developed technology that allows the concurrent use of multiple voice assistants, effectively leaving it to end users to choose whether they call on Alexa or the Google Assistant to handle certain tasks. That way, someone could ask Google for the weather, and then tell Alexa to add something to their Amazon shopping list, simply by using different wake words.

In January 2020, Sonos sued tech giant Google for allegedly copying its wireless speaker design, urging the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban Google products like laptops, phones and speakers.

It’s worth noting that not all tech companies are as protective of their voice assistants as Google. Amazon in particular has been a proponent of a more open approach; the company founded the Voice Interoperability Initiative to promote solutions similar to that developed by Sonos.

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