Alexa or Google Assistant? That’s the question that smart speaker users have long had to answer about which voice assistant they could install on their devices. But with JBL’s latest smart speakers, you don’t need to choose anymore.
Announced today at IFA in Berlin, the JBL Authentics 500, 300, and 200 arrive with a variety of features that pit them against Sonos’ new Era series, including Wi-Fi, multi-room playback, and Dolby Atmos support (on the larger 500 speaker).
Perhaps most notably, all three JBL Authentics speakers allow you to interact with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant at the same time, meaning you could ask Alexa to turn up the volume and immediately follow up by asking Google Assistant to tee up a YouTube Music playlist.
This news story is part of TechHive’e in-depth coverage of the best smart speakers.
Simultaneous Alexa and Google Assistant support on a smart speaker has been a long time in coming. Until now, all smart speakers that allowed for built-in Alexa and Google Assistant made you pick one or the other. On a Sonos smart speaker, for example, you can only have either Alexa or Google Assistant installed at any given time.
Amazon has previously lobbied other companies to make their voice assistants work together on the same device at the same time. Dozens of companies have signed on with Amazon’s Voice Interoperability Initiative, including BMW, Bose, Logitech, and Spotify, but Apple, Google, and Samsung have been notable holdouts.
While users haven’t previously been able to use Alexa and Google Assistant simultaneously on the same device, Alexa has been known to place nice with other voice assistants, such as Skullcandy’s.
Besides the ability to address either Alexa or Google Assistant, the new JBL Authentics speakers support universal device commands (or UDCs), meaning you can ask Alexa to set a timer and then tell Google Assistant to stop the same timer, rather than having to use the same assistant that initially triggered the action.
As for the JBL speakers themselves, the 270-watt JBL Authentics 500 packs three 1-inch tweeters and three 2.75-inch midrange woofers, along with a downfiring 6.5-inch subwoofer. Together, those drivers can deliver 3.1 channels of audio, including Dolby Atmos.
Meanwhile, the JBL Authentics 300 is a portable speaker offering eight hours of battery life, and the Authentics 200 offers stereo sound from a pair of 1-inch tweeters, a full-range 5-inch woofer, and a downfiring 6-inch passive radiator.
All three JBL Authentics speakers boast Wi-Fi support and work with Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and Chromecast, and they also support Alexa Multi-Room Music functionality. EQ settings can be fiddled with using the JBL app.
The JBL Authentics 500, 300, and 200 will be available September 15 for $699.99, $429.99, and $329.99 respectively.