If you’re a fan of the iconic TV series, Star Trek, then you have to admire Google as a company which is bringing a lot of the tech envisioned in the show come to real life. For many years, Google’s former Senior VP of search Amit Singhal said that I’m trying to build the Star Trek computer. A couple of years ago, when Google launched the first Pixel smartphone, on Gizmodo India, I called it Spock’s phone because it was wicked smart with the Assistant baked in, but for utilitarian and to the point, not flashy like an iPhone. Now that Google enters the smart-home space, one has to appreciate the fact that it brings the same type of ethos. The Google Nest Home Hub, in particular, is an embodiment of how Google wants to bring the Star Trek life to us, here and now, in real life, a far cry from the reel like it was in the ’60s.
- The Google Assistant is at the centre of what the Nest Home Hub can do. It is the brains behind everything. It’s the equivalent of the LCARS computer system in the iconic show. Being the smartest assistant around, any device which depends on it, gets enriched by its smarts which is what makes the Nest Home Better than something like the Amazon Echo Show. Google is just smarter — it knows more things than most assistants including Alexa and it works like a charm because it understands the Indian dialect better than anything else around. Siri, go back home!
- The Home Hub alone is a cute little screen that also packs a wallop with its speaker which can be surprisingly full and loud. If you happen to have a Google Home speaker or two, you can pair it and make all of them fire together creating a surround sound experience too. The screen alone is super useful for all kinds of work — be it viewing YouTube or Netflix or exposing information in a visual way, as everything via speech isn’t that great. This screen has an e-paper like feel almost which is neat and for sure, it is superior to the one on the Amazon Echo Show 5.
- Then like I mentioned before, it works with a ton of things which is admirable. It works with a bunch of smart lights like the Yeelight, Syska Light or even the Philips Hue for that matter. It plugs into even the most basic smart cameras for homes, like the Xiaomi Mi camera, so you can keep a watch back home. There is also compatibility with smart plugs which you remotely modulate appliances at home which are using them. Android TV and Chromecast owners will have the luxury of having deep integration with Google services.
- If there is deep hardware compatibility, it comes hand in hand, with deep software compatibility. Google has really amped up support for services. If you happen to use Spotify a lot, then this is going to be the Home Hub that you’d want to get along with it supporting YouTube Music for obvious reasons. Of course, this becomes a subjective thing but there are loads of local integrations at play.
- Google has also paid attention to privacy. It has a mute button to turn off the microphone so that the assistant isn’t listening to conversations in case you’re not super comfortable with the idea of that. It also doesn’t have a camera on the front which from a privacy standpoint is more of a boon than.
At the end of the day, it is the Google brain in the form of the assistant which is powers the experience on the Nest Home and it works superbly bringing you closer to a utopian future that was envisioned in Star Trek. Though that’s not to say, the Amazon Echo Show isn’t bringing that future, but for sure Google is a little ahead, mostly on the primacy of its search engine, integration with services and the fact, the most popular smart TVs and phones are powered by Google’s Android OS.