Now beginning to rival speakers as the central hub of the smart home, televisions are changing thanks to smart assistants. But with Android TV undergoing some cosmetic changes over the past year, and only a select amount of brands and models to choose from with built-in Assistant, it can be difficult to know what to look for.
Which TVs have Google Assistant?
If you‚Äôre the owner of a newer Philips OLED TV, such as the 7000, 7500, 8000 or 9000 Series, you‚Äôll be getting Google Assistant built in. And that means you can control the Assistant using both your voice and the remote. If you want to use voice through the remote ‚Äď which also has a full keyboard ‚Äď or your phone, download the Philips TV Remote app. For apps like Netflix, Spotify and Google Play Movies + TV, you also have built-in Google Cast to send videos from your phone or tablet.
After first announcing the collaboration at CES last year, LG‚Äôs latest AI TV line-up has now officially joined the pack of sets of with built-in Assistant - and has recently also gained Alexa support, too.
The crop includes both LG OLED TVs and LG Super UHD TVs with ThinQ AI, which deliver AI features directly through the TV‚Äôs remote control. By our count, there's a total of 74 variations of LG sets that have the Assistant built in, and that means you can ask it to help manage daily tasks, access information and control compatible smart home devices including lighting, appliances and much more.
As well as hosting Alexa and its own voice assistant, Bixby, Samsung now also plays nice with Google Assistant, announcing back at CES in January that its 2019 range of TVs will work with the digital helper. Interestingly, this works a little differently to the options stated above, though.
Sammy TVs with Assistant powers will be able to respond to voice commands, though not through the TV directly - meaning it's not the built-in assistant you might have been looking for. Why? Well, that built-in role is saved for Bixby.
So, what can you control? Well, providing you've got a speaker or display running GA, you'll be able to tell it to turn on the TV, change volume/channels and switch between inputs. It's not great, but it's better than nothing, right?
It‚Äôs a fairly similar equation with Sony's Bravia TVs. Since 2015, the company‚Äôs smart TVs have run on Android TV with Google Assistant voice controls built into the OS, and the latest sets thankfully do the same. Once you‚Äôve set up the telly, all you need to do is add your Google account in order to search for TV shows and movies, ask queries and control the smart home. As the image above shows the top button is used to start up Google Assistant.
Another big name in the Google Assistant business is Sharp, whose Aquos range goes from 45-inch right up to 80-inch (in 8K). For owners, that means built-in Assistant voice controls, Google Cast and all the usual Google apps ‚Äď YouTube, Play Movies and more ‚Äď plus you can sync up as many as four wireless controllers to play Android games. Go on, play some games already.
What can you control?
In order to use Google Assistant from your TV, you‚Äôre going to need a TV with it built inside, like the ones from the manufacturers above. However, once you've got it, what can you actually do with it ‚Äď and how do you control it all?
Well, the capabilities are fairly similar to that of your smart speaker, which is why the TV is quickly becoming a rival as ultimate controller of your wider smart home. That means you can talk to Google Assistant to control things like smart lights, cameras, speakers and more ‚Äď with the added benefit, of course, of the visualisation right in front of you. Think of it as a bigger smart display.
And that‚Äôs just the external control. Google Assistant can also be used to control the action being shown on your TV itself ‚Äď if you want to save time skipping through menus or trying to navigate through an app, just talk it out instead.
Discovering different movies, TV shows and music is also just as easy as it is through other Assistant-enabled devices, and planning your day through weather reports, map directions and the like are all available through your smart TV.
In terms of how this is all controlled, the process, again, is fairly similar to a speaker. You'll be able to interact with Assistant via the microphone in your TV remote ‚Äď either through the traditional "Hey Google" prompt or by pressing a specific button on the remote to produce the card on the bottom of the TV. Both generally work well, and you'll find yourself pressing the action button on the remote much more frequently than you would the physical buttons on a speaker.
There have been changes that have come to Android TV over the last year - most notably, the redesign, which makes it easier for users to see and customise the placing of different apps.
And, naturally, this slightly affects how you interact with Google Assistant. Queries will now pop up on the screen as you talk to your TV, while cards will also make things a bit more clear, rather than just having the answer read back to you.
So, for example, if you ask Google what the score in the football is, you'll now get a graphic with team logos and a bit more detail. If you ask what the weather will be like in the afternoon, you'll get an icon that also gives details on things like humidity, wind and the weather at later times. It's not that exciting, granted, but it does enhance the wider Assistant on TV experience.
Dual-commands are also something that you can tap into with Assistant, meaning you can ask Google to dim the lights and begin playing the movie in the same sequence.