Google Assistant wants to rule your Whirlpool kitchen

by Megan Wollerton

Whirlpool's adding Google Home support to more than 20 large appliances in 2017.

If you're interested in controlling your Whirlpool appliances with voice commands, you're no longer limited to Alexa. The large appliance manufacturer today announced upcoming support for Google Assistant, the Google Home's AI sidekick. More than 20 Whirlpool and Jenn-Air products are supposed to be part of the initial 2017 launch, starting with Jenn-Air wall ovens.

The Google Home is Google's answer to Amazon's Alexa devices. A $130 plug-in speaker, the Google Home responds to questions and commands over Wi-Fi with the simple wake phrases, "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google." Its voice control smarts come from the Google Assistant, the same recognition software that lives inside Android phones and watches (and soon TVs, too).

While Google voice control was around before Amazon debuted its suite of Alexa-enabled speakers, Google's Google Home speaker was introduced two years after the first-gen Amazon Echo. Because of this, Google is behind Amazon in terms of third-party smart home integrations. But it's clearly trying to make up for it.

In addition to Whirlpool-brand products, the broader Whirlpool Corporation oversees KitchenAid, Maytag, Hotpoint, Amana -- and Jenn-Air. Given its huge footprint in the large appliance market, its 20-product Google Home launch is actually pretty small. And although Whirlpool is one of the first appliance manufacturers to promise support for the Google Home speaker, it still hasn't followed through with plans to add Alexa skills to select appliances, including the Whirlpool Smart Cabrio top-load washing machine.