Making a wager on the existence of connected home life beyond pure voice activation, Google has announced Google Home Hub, a 7-in. touchscreen tabletop display with the Google Assistant built in. As part of the growing Google Home speaker family, the device dutifully processes voice commands and then stretches to function as a dashboard for connected home accessories.
Welcome to Your Hybrid Connected Home
This hybrid approach—where smart accessories can be controlled by either voice commands or touchscreen taps—stands in defiance to Amazon, a land where Alexa commands almost exclusively rule the roost. And while Apple does have a growing collection of HomeKit accessories that are controllable by their Siri digital assistant or the Home app, there is yet no comparable Apple tabletop display.
The Google agenda with Home Hub is to maximize easy access to core Google services—including Search, YouTube, Google Photos, Calendar, Maps and more—then sweetening the deal by elegantly integrating connected home accessories through its new Home View interface. It also gives Google the opportunity to better integrate smart thermostats, smart doorbells, and cameras from its sister company Nest into the Google ecosystem.
A swipe down on the screen reveals Home View, a consolidated view of the connected home accessories in the home that are controllable with Google Home. These can viewed by device genre or room.
In contrast to the recently-announced Facebook Portal displays and the second-generation Amazon Echo Show, Google Home Hub does not have a camera so cannot be used for video calling. And Google designed their display to be less obtrusive among modern home decor by integrating a smaller 7-in. display versus the 10- or 15-in. Portals and 10-in. Echo Show.
Google stresses aesthetics in their launch marketing for Home Hub. The device has a decidedly softer appearance compared to the edgier Portal and Echo Show, with a rounded base wrapped in fabrics to match those on the Google Home Mini. Color choices include chalk, charcoal, the just-announced aqua, plus a new sand (or is it salmon?) color.
Home Hub is also expected to find its way into many kitchens. Home cooks will be able to summon their favorite Tasty recipe videos with a simple voice command. Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs, anyone?
Google Home App Gets an Upgrade
In synch with Google Home Hub, the company has also upgraded its Google Home app with a friendlier interface. The new Android and iOS app can be used with all Google Home speakers and connected accessories, and can take voice command orders from the companion Google Assistant app.
Google Home Hub is priced at $149 and can be pre-ordered from the Google Store. The company says it will also be on the shelves at BestBuy, Target, Walmart, and other retailers on October 22.