For many years we’ve been sold on devices with digital displays for the kitchen bench, but it’s safe to say your still living with a dumb kitchen. Google’s Home Hub is a connected device that features a 7″ display. That display can provide you with visual information, while you interact with the device either via touch, or by using Google’s Assistant with voice.
While those of us who have Android phones can control our smart homes using our phones, having the ability to say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” is definitely a freeing experience. Actually it gives you great control over your smart home using Google Assistant compatible IoT devices, or by using the middleware service, IFTTT.
When the device is in use, you may pull up a recipe, play music from Spotify or simply ask Google a question you need answered. You can ask it about the weather, or what’s on your calendar, or to turn on or off the lights. There really are a growing list of use cases for a smart device like this in your home, but like many, I already have hands-free access to a voice assistant, so the Home Hub had to do something more to be interesting.
Having a digital display (even a small one) opens the door to possibilities that simply aren’t on offer with a connected speaker. Let’s talk about that speaker, while the display is fantastic, bright, responsive, the speaker is definitely a secondary thought, it does the job, but it’s definitely not on the level of a Sonos One.
If you call up a recipe, you’ll be greeted not only with the ingredients and steps of the recipe, but each ingredient is visualised with graphics behind the text. If you’re working with ingredients you’ve not used before, having visual images really helps confirm you’re adding the right stuff. Of course these steps can be moved through using voice, as Google recognises you’ll probably have food on your hands. If not, then the standard touchscreen gestures also work.
When you’re not using the display, it goes into a slideshow mode. The great thing is you get to choose 1 or more albums from Google Photos and surprisingly Facebook. Given I backup photos to Google Photos and often share albums to Facebook I found it easy to create a photo slideshow of my daughter or a memories from a recent family holiday. While not many people actually use digital photo frames, given the additional use cases, Google Home may be the first one that sticks.
Other uses including video calls using Google Duo, Getting the news from your favourite sources as well as being a destination for Chromecast content to be sent from mobile devices.
During my time reviewing the Home Hub, I moved it to the bathroom, so I could take advantage of the Routines feature. “Good morning”, “Let’s go work” and “I’m home” are all examples of customisable Routines you can configure.
These routines can help you start your day, by providing you with functions on the device like telling you about the weather, your commute (traffic delays), what’s on your Calendar. What’s impressive is its ability to also control features of your phone, like taking it off silent, now you’re out of bed. Once the visual and audible updates are complete, you can then choose to have the Home Hub play content, ranging from Music, News, Radio or my favourite, Podcasts.
With podcasts, you can have it resume where you left off, or dynamically play the latest edition of a specific podcast. Maybe you like waking up with this week’s Security Now, or Kyle and Jackie O, with Google Home Hub, you can and that’s fantastic.
Price & Availability
Google Home Hub is available now and will cost you A$199.00. For that price, it’s pretty affordable and over time you may consider getting multiple for additional rooms.
For more information, head to Google Home Hub.
The Google Home Hub is a great product, with the feature set today only growing into the future. The device’s screen is it’s greatest feature, particularly as a proposition for someone already acquainted with the benefits of far-range microphones and voice assisted speakers.
With the device’s worth proven, I think Google should definitely offer a larger display, perhaps 10″ which would naturally be more expensive, but would provide better visibility from further distances. While I have powerpoints in the end of my island bench, not everyone does, so the distance between the Google Home Hub (or rather it’s power point) and the cooking surface may be great than you’d like. The other option would be to go down the battery route, rather than mains power and make it truly portable.
Overall the Google Home Hub is a massive success and if you’re already in the Android camp, this is the natural extension to your connected, Google life.