Google's Latest and Greatest: An All-in-One Display, Smart Home Hub and Security Camera
The Google I/O Conference kicked off today, which is the tech giant’s annual meeting for software developers working with its ever-increasing suite of hardware and software products. In the keynote address, Google leadership announced a slew of exciting developments, including a product that smart home aficionados have been waiting for: the new Nest Hub Max smart home hub.
We did have some previous indication that this updated version of the Google Home Hub (which is being renamed to the Nest Hub) was in the pipeline. As reported by The Verge and Android Police, the Nest Hub Max was accidentally leaked for a short time on the Google Store homepage. Now that the device is officially launched, we know exactly how it improves upon its predecessor.
If you’re completely new to smart home hubs, you can think of the Nest Hub Max as a tablet (similar to an iPad) that allows you to control all of your home automation devices in one place, either by voice control, the touchscreen interface and even hand gestures in some cases. Unlike the first Nest Hub, the new Hub Max also has a built-in security camera. You can also use it for watching videos or streaming music.
Nest Hub Max Key Benefits & Features:
- Designed for use in communal areas of the home
- 10-inch smart display (the older Nest Hub has a 7-inch screen)
- “Hey Google” voice control through a new-and-improved Google Assistant
- Home View dashboard, which pulls in connected smart home devices and allows you to control them all in one place
- A built-in security camera
- Support for video calling and video messages
- Multiple user support through Voice Match and Face Match: Household members can opt into these features to teach the Hub Max to recognize them, so that they can receive personalized messages and device options.
- Streaming video and music on-demand with gesture control: To pause the media, you can simply wave your hand, without needing to touch the screen or use your voice.
- When not in use, it functions as a digital photo frame.
Google also acknowledged Nest-specific privacy concerns. Facial recognition is processed locally on the device and not on the cloud. The camera does not stream or record unless you specifically tell it to, and a green indicator light on the front of the device confirms whether or not the camera is running.
These features come together to create a powerful command center for running an integrated smart home. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little longer to get our hands on one. Google announced that the Nest Home Hub Max will retail for $229 and will start shipping later this summer. In the meantime, the original Nest Hub (without a camera) will continue to be available for the newly reduced price of $129. Pro tip: For a limited time, the Nest Hub is on sale at Target for only $99.
Lastly, if you’re confused about the Google and Nest name change, here’s a little background. Google purchased Nest in 2014. Back then, Nest was already a leader in home automation products like thermostats, video doorbells and security cameras. Google continued running Nest as if were a separate company until 2018, when it decided that the Nest brand would become part of the official “Made by Google” suite of products. The Nest Hub Max is the first major Nest device that’s being released with this new designation.
This smart home hub is far from the only new development announced during the keynote speech. For more about Google’s new Pixel phones, updates to its Android software and its emerging artificial intelligence projects, you can watch the entire 2019 Google I/O Keynote on YouTube.
Update: Google Nest Hub Max Now Available
September 9, 2019 – you can finally get your hands on a Nest Hub Max. They retail for $229 each, and they're available from the Google Store, Target and other major retailers. (We don't expect to see this one available through Amazon anytime soon, since Nest is a prime competitor to Ring, one of Amazon's top home security brands.)