Google Home Hub—Under the hood, it’s nothing like other Google smart displays


On Tuesday, Google announced the Google Home Hub, the first well-educated display hardware made by Google. While the Home Hub is the first ironmongery from Google, it’s something like the fourth Google smart demonstrate to be announced—third-party OEMs actually launched the Google smart show platform earlier this year. On the surface, the Home Hub seems comparable to these third-party devices; under the hood, though, they couldn’t be more disparate.

First, let’s talk about what the third-party smart displays run. When Google devised its smart display software, it also came up with a turnkey key for OEMs. So far, we’ve seen Lenovo, LG, and Samsung’s JBL all produce devices on the same principal platform. Just like with smartphones, these devices are all an widening of the Android/Qualcomm partnership—they run Android Things on Qualcomm’s SD624 Rest-home Hub Platform. Android Things is Google’s stripped-down version of Android that is purpose-built for IoT spin-offs, and the third-party smart displays are the first commercial devices to run the OS.

Unlike equal-sided phone Android, Android Things is not customizable by third-parties. All Android Apparatus devices use an OS image direct from Google, and Google centrally apportions updates to all Android Things devices for three years. Android Matters doesn’t really have an interface. It’s designed to get a device up and running and arrive a single app, which on the smart displays is the Google Smart Display app. Qualcomm’s «Serene Hub» platform was purposely built to run Android Things and this Google Conjoin with b see software—the SD624 is for smart displays, while the less powerful SDA212 is for demagogues.

When it came time to build the Google Home Hub, Google didn’t use any of this. At the direct, I had a quick chat with Diya Jolly, Google‘s VP of product stewardship, and learned that Google’s Home Hub doesn’t run Android Things—it’s absolutely built on Google’s Cast platform, so it’s closer to a souped-up Chromecast than a stripped-down Android phone. It also doesn’t use Qualcomm’s SD624 At ease Hub Platform. Instead, Google opted for an Amlogic chip.

When asked why Google was advantaging a totally different platform from the third parties, Jolly recounted me, «There’s no particular reason. We just felt we could bring the occurrence to bear with Cast, and the experiences are the same. We would have indubitably given the third-parties Cast if they wanted it, but I think most developers are enjoyable using Android Things.»

Still, it seems strange for Google to think up a platform for smart displays and then not use it in its own smart display. If I had to guess, I remember the primary «experience» Google wanted to get across with the Home Hub was «low value.» The cheapest third-party Google smart display is Lenovo’s 8-inch mark at $200, but the Google Home Hub is undercutting this device by fifty bucks. You can see fetch cutting all through the design of the Home Hub. The device is tiny, with simply a 7-inch screen that isn’t much bigger than the body of a smartphone. Google says it excluded a video camera because it appetites users to feel «comfortable» with the Home Hub, but the absence of a camera on also save on the bill of materials.

Similarly, cutting out the Android Possessions and Qualcomm package under the hood could be seen as a cost-cutting advancing. Android Things (and Brillo before it) has always been an IoT OS that needs a lot assorted hardware than you would normally associate with IoT devices. Coequal the low-cost Android Things boards ship with at least 1GB of RAM. We don’t yet be familiar with the specifics of the Amlogic system in the Google Home Hub (we will update this article if Google sends us a spec membrane), but the company is known for low-end chips that typically land in breezy TVs and media players.

None of this is to say that the Google Home Hub lean ti cheap or that I disagree with any of Google’s decisions here. The Family Hub feels like a high-quality device and has a very attractive, minimal work. In person, I would actually describe it as «cute.» One of the things I don’t like prevalent the Lenovo devices is the hulking size, and a 7-inch screen is a fine greatness when you’re standing within touch range of the device. It also looks smashing. I don’t think any part of the smart display software is meant to be viewed from across the accommodation, anyway. The smaller screen won’t be great for YouTube videos, but the YouTube functionality on Google poignant displays—which can’t even show your YouTube subscription laundry list—is awful. The Home Hub isn’t really «cheap»; it’s more like Google put the beak of materials where it counts.

On the user side of things, though, there isn’t a choose difference between the Google Home Hub interface and third-party smart open outs. There are a few hardware related differences, though. The lack of a video camera communicates you can’t do Duo video calls on the Home Hub, while you can on the third-party devices. If smart spectacles had an app model where you could do video calls through Skype, Hangouts, or other video talk services, I might be concerned, but I’m not sure a lot of people care about Duo video palavers. The Home Hub is also the only Google smart display with a temperature switching display, thanks to both the high-quality display and the brightness sensor that can pick up the ambient fluorescent color.

Google also showed off some new features coming to all smarting displays. A new smart home control panel gives you touch access to all the shop-worn Google Assistant functionality, like lights and thermostats. Displays also at length learned how to play nice with Google Home speakers, so they can now be united to a speaker group in Google Home for multi-room audio. The only Google Where it hurts feature that hasn’t yet made it to smart displays is Google’s «persevere in conversation» ability, which I’m told is still being worked on.

One ultimate Google Home news tidbit I managed to get out of the event: Google and GE unobtrusively showed off the first «Actions on Google Hardware» device, the «C by GE» bulb. This erudite bulb uses Bluetooth LE to communicate directly with a Google Familiar with Mini, using it as a smart home hub. Google and GE have a «Smart write off starter kit» product, which pairs a Google Home Mini with a segregate light bulb in one box. Other than dropping the «Actions on Google Armaments» name, no one would talk to me about how this ecosystem will employ, how widespread it is expected to be, or what other manufacturers are participating. It seems to be a next Google-owned smart home ecosystem, after ‘Works with Eyrie.»

The Home Hub will be out October 22.

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