In addition to unveiling the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Tuesday, Google has officially unveiled the Google Home Hub.
The Home Hub is Google’s attempt to create a device that sits at the centre of a smart home. It’s a voice-activated assistant that’s an addition to the firm’s existing set of home speakers (the Google Max, Home and Mini). Unlike any of Google’s previous voice assistant products, the Home Hub has a 7-inch touchscreen.
However, the Home Hub’s screen isn’t meant for browsing the web. Despite looking like a tablet attached to a stand, Google says the device wasn’t created to be picked up and used. It’s meant to sit on your bedside table, coffee table or kitchen work surface. There’s no keyboard or browser – instead, it’s powered by Google Assistant.
The Home Hub’s default screen shows the time and scrolls through a user’s photos (if permission is given). When the device’s screen is tapped, a number of cards are shown. These can be set by the user but each of them shows some information: the next event in a calendar or details about a planned commute, for example.
The screen is attached to the device’s speaker and the overall system is slightly taller than a pint glass. Like its other devices that have been designed to be put in the home, Google has covered the Home Hub’s speaker with a thin fabric layer that’s neutral looking and blends into minimalist rooms.
Notably, Google hasn’t included a camera on the Home Hub. Google says a camera hasn’t been included as it doesn’t see video calling being a key function of the Hub. Audio calls are possible, though.
You can also control other smart-home products such as connected lightbulbs and thermostats from the device. Google sees the Home Hub as a main control unit for these types of products.
The Home Hub is hooked into a range of Google services, too. When asked to play music, the Assistant defaults to YouTube. If you ask what’s happening in the news, it shows results from Google News.
Notifications from other services, such as Facebook or Twitter, can’t be shown at the moment. Netflix also isn’t supported. Third-party services that can be accessed through Google Assistant, such as Spotify, can be accessed via the Home Hub but the devices visual features are, for now, a Google-only zone.
The Home Hub, which costs £139, comes in four different colours that Google calls aqua, sand, chalk and charcoal (blue, yellow-ish, white and grey-ish). It’s available to pre-order from October 9 and will be in stores from October 22.
If you buy and register before 31 December 2018, then you’ll get six months of YouTube Premium for free.