Google has just confirmed that it's making a new, first-party smart display. The speaker, called the Google Home Hub, will rival the Amazon Echo Show with a 7-inch screen of its own and shares a lot of the same functionality.
Like its Amazon counterpart, the Home Hub will be able to show visual information on your day and control your smart home devices. It will have Google Maps, Calendar and Photos support, alongside YouTube and YouTube TV. (Keep in mind that, due to their on-going dispute, Google doesn't allow YouTube on the Amazon Echo Show family of devices so that's a definite advantage right out of the gate.)
To play up the YouTube integration aspect, Google is offering 6 months of YouTube Premium for free when you purchase a Home Hub.
The smart speaker is available to pre-order today in four colors - Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua and Sand - and will be available starting October 22 in the US, UK and Australia.
Cut to the chase
- What is Google Home Hub? The new first-party smart display from Google
- What will Google Home Hub cost? $149 (around £110, AU$210)
- When is the Google Home Hub release date? Oct. 22 in the UK, US and Australia
Like your Home, but better
Unlike the Amazon Echo Show, however, the Home Hub doesn't have a camera on its front face. That means video calling could be a bit difficult. That said, voice calling will almost definitely return as a feature here.
The Home Hub will support Routines - Google's name for a string of related commands - and will recognize distinct voices using 'voice match'.
Google is positioning the speaker as the ultimate home helper with a feature called Home View that gives you an overview of the smart devices currently in use. Not only will Home View be available on the Hub but, according to Google, it will be available on the new Home mobile app on Android and iOS devices.
According to Diya Jolly, VP of Product Management at Google, it's also 'the world's best photo frame', offering live photos and albums. Live Albums, a new feature on Google Home Hub, allows you to select photos of people you want to see and then creates a new album with all the photos of that person you've ever taken. Using the power of machine learning, Google will help you avoid embarrassment by automatically eliminating any underexposed or blurred photos in your collection.
The first smart display for the bedroom?
One of the things Google played up at its Google Pixel 3 keynote was that it wants you to feel comfortable with the Google Home Hub - that's why there's no camera embedded in the speaker itself.
Instead, what you'll notice at the top of the speaker is an Ambient EQ light sensor that allows the screen to automatically adjust to match the lighting in the room - dimming the screen at night so it's easier to sleep.
In the morning, Google Home Hub can provide a quick overview of your day: Google Calendar shows you what's on your agenda, Google Maps has your commute information, reminders has your to-do list and the weather forecast ... well, you know what that does. All these features can be lumped together in a morning routine that you can ask for each day.