What’s the latest trend in technology? Talking speakers for the home? Almost. Talking speakers and cameras for the home. Amazon has one. Now Google has something similar but without the inherently creepy camera. Amazon’s is called the Echo Show, which features Alexa, a camera, and some artificial intelligent smarts. I take that to mean Amazon wants to survey your home to see what they can sell you.
Google’s new Home Hub smart speaker looks more like an always on iPad sitting on a stand, and placed somewhere in the hub of the home; probably living room or dining area. What you get is easier than iPhone and iPad access to Google Assistant, Google Search, Google YouTube videos, Google Photos, Google Calendar, Google Maps. What’s missing?
There’s no camera to match Amazon’s Echo Show so there’s no video calling feature built in. Home Hub is more like an iPad mini but with less capability. Unless you’re into the Google ecosystem.
Take a look.
See? iPad mini on a stand, always on, always ready to answer a question and provide useful information.
Home Hub is a control freak, too. Google:
You can control 10,000+ types of smart home devices from 1,000+ popular brands. That means there are more than 200 million devices in the U.S. that are compatible with Google Home Hub, many of them already in your home. With Google Home Hub, everyone in the family can see and control your devices from a single dashboard—no more switching between apps.
10,000 smart home devices. 1,000 brands. Impressive. Now, here’s a good question to ask. How many people do you know have one of those 10,000 smart home devices?
What do they do?
Control lights? Check. Control security systems? Of course. Turn music on and off as needed? Yep. Set an alarm? Uh huh. While there may be thousands of such devices on the market, the average home has few of them, and it’s likely that most homes have none. Home Hub performs much like an iPad mini but is less mobile (it needs power).
Google must be sensitive to the creepiness factor of having a built-in camera to match Amazon’s Echo Show, but clearly the search engine giant sees a future of integrated devices and wants to be a major player. For software, Google is a major player. But hardware hasn’t caught on in the average home and that’s likely to take some time because there is no killer app, no killer functionality, no must have option to make the device a, well, must have.
Will Apple make a Home Hub-like device? After all, Apple is a hardware company far more so than Google or Amazon. HomePod is a talking speaker with high quality sound. Apple TV runs streaming video to the widescreen. iPhone, iPad, and Watch combine to give people more mobile controls over similar requests that make Home Hub worth a look.
Until something better comes along. Something will. Something always does.