There are a number of ways to access Google Assistant when you’re driving, with JBL yesterday announcing a new form factor that places an always-on microphone in your car. Anker at CES 2019 is also joining this new device class with the Roav Bolt.

Like the JBL Link Drive, the Anker Roav Bolt attaches to and is powered by your car’s cigarette lighter. It acts as an intermediary between your car’s speaker system (over Bluetooth) and your phone. Supporting both Android and iOS, it communicates with the Google or Assistant app and then routes results through the louder sound system.

The key aspect of this new class of Assistant device is noise-canceling dual microphones that can hear you over ambient car and road noise. Anker touts both on-device signal processing, as well as machine learning analysis from Google Cloud to get clear results.

As such, users can say the “Hey Google” hotword at anytime and begin talking to Assistant for directions, traffic information, making calls, and streaming music. The circular Roav Bolt features four indicator lights on its face to note interactions, with an Assistant logo underneath that doubles as a physical button to begin voice entry.

Meanwhile, the Roav Bolt is particularly convenient by featuring two USB-A ports that allow for phone charging. Other features include a 3.5mm Jack for AUX output.

The Anker Roav Bolt is slightly cheaper than the JBL Link Drive at $49.95 (versus $59.95). It is available for pre-order starting today.

This new class of Assistant device will likely excel due to their affordable price point and less distracting interaction method that does not require a screen and capitalizes on the rise of smart speakers. Google Assistant is already available in cars via Android Auto on the phone, standalone/integrated head units, and Google Maps.

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Abner Li

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