JBL Link Drive adds always-on Google Assistant smarts to any car

Harman’s JBL has announced a new device at CES 2019 that is designed to make your old car smart. It’s called Link Drive.

You may not have noticed that voice assistants haven’t really penetrated the existing auto market. There are some well-known car accessories available that’ll add smarts to your old vehicle There’s Car Play and Android Auto on the phone and on standalone/integrated head units.

But those aren’t exactly intuitive, nor are they “always on”.

JBL is hoping to change that, with the introduction of its Link Drive.  It can make any car with a cigarette lighter into a Google Assistant car. But the best part is it’s not expensive and there’s no distracting screen. It’s more like a Google Assistant smart speaker, but for your car.

Simply plug in the JBL Link Drive and pair it with an Apple or Android device. Then, you’ll need to pair it with your car speakers through Bluetooth or using an aux cord. Once connected, you’ll be able to use Google Assistant inside your car to ask for directions, weather, and traffic updates, or you can ask what’s on your calendar for the day. It also will turn down your radio when you say “Hey, Google” or when you’re receiving a call.

It works like any Google Assistant device really, but with an emphasis on always-on connectivity. The JBL Link Drive even features dual-noise canceling mics, which will ignore the ambient noise that comes with driving, allowing the device to focus on your voice for a seamless experience. 

Expect the Link Drive to be available sometime this spring, with a starting price of$59.95. For more announcements from CES 2019, see Pocket-lint’s round-up here. The show officially starts 8 January and lasts a few days.

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