Android co-founder Andy Rubin says he wants his new Home device to run Siri, Alexa, Google's Assistant, or whatever other virtual assistant consumers want to keep using.
He told Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference at the Terranea Resort in California that this is in keeping with what consumers want, and that to only allow one assistant on a device is the wrong strategy.
"All of these [companies] have ecosystem envy and want to create their own ecosystem," Rubin said. "But consumers don't want just Samsung stuff in their house. They want diversity."
He added that anyone only allowing their own virtual assistant software on their devices "is going to fail."
The Essential Home [pictured above] has a screen, making it look a bit like the Echo Show from Amazon, and shares a name with the smart-home hub from Rubin's former employer, Google. It runs Essential's new operating system Ambient OS (think ambient computing), designed for operating smart homes.
Ambient will be open source and will follow a similar development and deployment process as Android, said Rubin. Mossberg commented that this process has led to the fragmentation of Android versions across devices, which has resulted in uneven access to updates for consumers.
Mossberg estimated that fewer than 30 percent of Android devices have the latest version of Android.
"I think we have a solution for that. I think we have a better plan," said Rubin, but declined to share further details.
The idea behind smart speaker devices like the Essential Home is for there to be a central point through which users can control other smart home devices, from multiple makers. Rubin has long been a fan of designing devices and software for interoperability, and making Ambient OS compatible with other companies' virtual assistant software would fit with that vision.
Rubin said there's no price or planned date of release yet for the Home, but the Android phone from Essential is slated to ship in about 30 days.
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