While Google's smart home developments, both in terms of hardware and software, have slowed significantly in recent years, the brand played a foundational role in the creation of the Matter standard.
As such, it doesn't seem all that surprising for Google to increase the options consumers have to set up and control their smart home; that is until you consider that this move could stand to make Google's own Nest hubs obsolete.
New year, new home hub
In a blog post, Google announced its plans to transform LG TVs into Matter-compatible Google Home hubs, as well as select Google TVs and other Android TV OS devices. Right now, there's only a loose timeline of "later this year", according to a press conference delivered by LG earlier this week, which also highlighted that users will be able to "see, control, and manage both LG and Google Home devices from TVs or the ThinQ app.”
This news comes following announcements from Samsung that SmartThings will have an improved TV experience this year, so clearly there's a real push to break out smart home ecosystems out of the best smart speakers and best smart displays.
While Google did reference its existing home hub hardware briefly in the blog post, it was scarcely an honorary mention acknowledging their existence. Realistically, though, this announcement means Google Home fans who aren't particularly interested in Nest devices will no longer need one to control their smart homes.
Now, let's briefly talk about the future of Google's smart home. It's been nearly three years since we've seen any new hubs from Google, and while for a time that filled me with excitement for some big news to come, I'm growing increasingly nervous – especially given some of Google's Fitbit news this year – that there may be trouble ahead for Google smart home fans.
For instance, the Sleep Sensing feature mentioned earlier was free to preview all through 2023, but in 2024 Google plans to integrate it into Fitbit Premium, a subscription-based service. Support for some features on Zoom and Meet ended in September, Dropcam support ended in April and a host of other Google Assistant voice apps got the chop, too.
Now, there could be a host of reasons development has slowed in the Google smart home labs. Google's Gemini LLM could be a big factor here, with the tech giant potentially vying to develop the most advanced smart assistant possible, but that doesn't necessarily explain some of the more conservative decisions made by Google in recent months.
Personally, I'm actually really excited to see TVs become more involved in smart home shenanigans; they are, after all, the central axis around which much of life at home rotates. I just hope it doesn't come at the expense of Nest hubs.
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Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.