The latest Made By Google hardware event is on now, with the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL flagship smartphones dropping, as well as ChromeOS iPad rival Pixel Slate.
And then there’s the Google Home Hub. An obvious rival to Amazon’s Echo Show, it costs just £139 ($149 in the US of A), which notably bum rushes the Show, which is £219 when not getting one of its semi-regular discount deals.
Like Show, this new addition to the Google Home smart speaker range totes a screen to display extra information from the Google Assistant. However unlike the Echo Show, Home Hub has no camera, as people get weirded out by that, and can also filter out pictures of you in the nuddy.
As you’ll read further down, Home Hub has a fair few things in common with Echo Show, but one feature that hasn’t made the cut on the Google Home Hub is video calling. With no front-facing camera, there’s going to be no video hangouts for you here.
Given the spate of recent privacy invasion furores involving tech giants – you probably didn’t even know this due to not using it, but Google had to shut down its social network Google+ due to one such recent incident – it’s perhaps no surprise Google has decided not to include a camera. After all, this is a device the brand wants people to put in their bedrooms, kitchens and sex dungeons.
The Home Hub will include tight integration with Google Photos, with owners able to ask for photographs from a particular location, or time. And again, one thing Hub has in its feature set, and which Amazon Echo Show does not, is the ability to filter what appears on your photo feed.
As such, Home Hub will not show potentially contentious images, such as till receipts snapped for your expenses app, or pictures of your genitals. We are about 90% sure that Google’s spokesperson confirmed that during the live event, but we’re awaiting further details on the genitalia front and how this feature will work.
Google Home Hub will offer far-field voice recognition, like the existing products in the line-up, and Echo Show, and can be controlled via the touchscreen, or with voice commands using the wake phrase “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google”.
The dashboard displayed on the touchscreen in the leaked product images hints at some of the capabilities of this new Google Home gadget, notably the ability to display detailed directions via Google Maps.
Google also looks set to include a detailed weather forecast for the next three days in the bottom left-hand corner of the 7-inch screen, with the predicted highs and lows. Home Hub appears to use the same Material Design card-like interface seen across the suite of Google products.
Google Home Hub promises integration with more than 5,000 smart home products from some 400 brands at launch. For example, integration with Google-owned Nest products will enable Home Hub owners to ask “Hey Google, Show me the front door camera” to display a live feed.
If this sounds at all familiar, it’s likely because Amazon already offers very similar features with… its Echo Show hardware, which can play live video feeds from home security systems, display detailed weather forecasts, and calendar appointments.
The specs confirm support for dual-band (2.4GHx/5GHz) Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth.