Google has just confirmed that it's making a new, first-party smart display. The speaker, called the Google Home Hub, which will rival the original Amazon Echo Show with a 7-inch screen and 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? October 22, 2018
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.
Finally, with Home View, you'll be able to turn off any remaining smart lights and turn off the thermostat before calling it a night.
Amazon Echo Show: here's what Google's up against
Of course, it wasn't all that long ago that we met the 2nd Gen Amazon Echo Show that looks to offer some serious competition to the Google Home Hub.
The 2nd Gen Echo Show has a 10-inch, 1080p screen - giving it about 3 inches more screen real estate than the Google Home Hub.
That extra space is going to cost you, however. When it launches in October, the Amazon Echo Show will cost $229 / £219 / AU$349 - a fair bit more expensive than the Google Home Hub. That said, you're also getting a camera with the Amazon Echo Show that allows you to video chat with other Echo devices and make phone calls to anyone, anywhere, absolutely free. We assume the Home Hub can make calls just like the original Google Home, but without a camera they'll be limited to voice-only.
But add Google Home Hub's price with some spectacular software features - like Home View, Google Photos and YouTube integration - and you have a neck-and-neck competition between the world's two biggest tech brands.
- We'll have a first look shortly, but until then, the Lenovo Smart Display has Google Home Hub smarts without the Google branding