GOOGLE TO LAUNCH ITS ASSISTANT-POWERED SMART DISPLAY THIS YEAR: Google is reportedly planning to ship a screen-enabled smart speaker by the end of this year, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Google’s foray into the screen-enabled smart speaker market is important because the hardware presents Google with a massive opportunity to expand its reach and boost the company’s overall revenue potential. That’s because screen-enabled smart speakers can perform all the same functions as basic smart speakers, but they also offer the ability for users to make video calls, watch videos, look at photos, and search the internet using both their voice and hands. As such, Google is able to boost uptake of services that require a visual interface, like Google’s video chat app Duo, Google Photos, Google Play, Search, and YouTube. The news follows Google’s announcement at CES 2018 that it would be partnering with third-party manufacturers — Lenovo, JBL, LG, and Sony — to create the first Google Assistant-powered speakers with smart displays. Lenovo began shipping its Google Assistant-powered Smart Display speaker in July.