Google Assistant on the Shield TV may sound very similar to the Google Voice Search which was available in prior versions. But now it has been enhanced with a cleaner visual design and more capabilities. Nvidia says that apart from a handful of basic functions, the Assistant on the Shield TV can do everything that it could do on the Google Home.
For media control, the Google Assistant can cast audio to the Google Home or other Google Cast speakers. Assistant on the Shield TV can be used to play, pause, skip, fast-forward, or adjust the volume while watching something. It also has deep integration with apps, so it can surface content directly from Netflix and others.
There are many advantages that the Assistant has on the TV over a Google Home. The first advantage is in addition to audio feedback, answers can be displayed on a big screen. A request for a weather report will be accompanied by a visual five-day forecast. While asking what’s on your agenda, you can show your calendar appointments right on the TV screen. Which is a lot like how Google Assistant works on your smartphone. It displays information and showcases content related to the user.
Google Assistant on Android TV can be used to access Assistant apps. A few apps being Tender for cocktail suggestions or Fitstar for workout guidance. It can control smart home gadgets, such as lights or thermostats that work with Google Assistant. It can even be used to turn the TV off or control the volume provided your TV has the right HDMI CEC support.
In addition, with the Shield’s gaming controller and its built-in microphone, Google Assistant can be activated hands-free with a “Hey Google” or “OK Google” voice command, just like on the Google Home speaker. The hands-free voice commands even work when the TV is powered off. Thus, making the Shield very similar in functionality to the Google Home. Nvidia states that other set-top boxes have voice assistants or voice control. But Shield is the only one that is fully hands-free.
The Shield 6.0 software is available to download on all Shield TV devices starting today. Nvidia announced that the new and existing owners of the Shield TV will receive three months of YouTube Red for free as part of the update.