Hands on with Google's Home Hub: The smart speaker for everything
Hands on with Google's Home Hub: The smart speaker for everything
What is Google Home Hub and how does it work?
11 October, 2018, 16:56
Like everything else on offer by Google lately, this piece of hardware is different not only because of how it is built, but also because of the software experience within. Photos displayed on the Google Home Hub should blend in the room - thanks to no glowing screen. It brings a basic yet powerful set of controls for your smart home devices. Hopefully this is just the first step in the plan to actually break these controls out into a dedicated shade or panel within Android - a swipe gesture to quickly launch home controls would be a fantastic step forward on the overall assistant/home control ecosystem. Since the Home Hub is built on the cast platform, does that mean that the device will have some of those missing features that I outlined months ago such as the ability to add the Smart Display to audio groups and cast content from providers such as Netflix? I was told that at this time, the focus is simply YouTube Premium.
We've seen similar Google Assistant devices from Lenovo and JBL, but Google is trying to offer up something slightly more streamline with the Home Hub.
You can do lots of other things too. Rather than using one of the hardware platforms that Google certifies for other manufacturers, the Home Hub uses a processor from Amlogic.
It comes in four colors: Charcoal, Aqua, Chalk, and Sand.
Google Home Hub lets you browse millions of recipes and start cooking, all hands-free. We already know that Google's offering features a swipe-down gesture that brings up a "home view" control panel that now isn't found on the third-party devices. You can use Play Music though. You can control over 10,000 types of smart home devices from over 1,000 popular brands.
Separately, the Google Home support page has been updated to support playback speed controls for news and podcasts. And it provides access to Google products like Search, YouTube, Photos, Calendar, Maps, and more - all viewable from the display.
But as it turns out, according to Ars Technica who talked to Diya Jolly, Google's VP of product management at the event, the Home Hub is running a completely different operating system than what's found on the current lineup of Smart Displays. The idea is to remove what Google calls the "billboard effect" where your eyes are drawn to the brightness of the display in a dim room. Did I want to see a Google hub with Zigbee and/or Z-Wave radios? While more than 50 million smart speakers have been sold in the USA, they have so far disappointed as a marketing tool.
Aside from slight software or feature differences between the Google Hub and now available smart displays, the real star is the single, cohesive interface Google is bringing to the smart home here.
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