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Hands on with Google's Home Hub: The smart speaker for everything

11 October 2018

Rather than using one of the hardware platforms that Google certifies for other manufacturers, the Home Hub uses a processor from Amlogic.

Voice assistants have come a long way over the last few years, from an often-confused voice in your smartphone to touch-screen smart displays that can connect you to friends and information in a snap.

One swipe shows touchable controls and status of lights - both power and dimming - cameras, thermostats, sensors and any other compatible smart home devices you have. I was told that at this time, the focus is simply YouTube Premium. With a small 7-inch display, it's tiny compared to existing smart displays like the excellent Lenovo Smart Display. But the Google Home Hub isn't the hub I wanted. Notably, the support page also suggests that users can now ask Google Home to read news about a topic, for example "Listen to news about North Korea", or "Play the latest on Donald Trump".

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It's definitely odd to see Google develop an entire ecosystem for third-party Assistant smart displays, and then use something else for its own device. Aside from four color options, some unique features and some that will arrive on the competing products soon. I have the 10-inch Lenovo model on my bedroom nightstand and I keep the camera covered unless I'm on a Google Duo call, which is rare.

Ultimately, the Home Hub is just a hardware-based middleman that sits, physically, between you and the Google Assistant and its cloud-based capabilities. As you can see from the image above, you can use it to guide you through cooking something.

The Discover page shows recommended Assistant commands, Chromecast apps, and any available promotions while the Browse section aims to be a hub for movies, TV shows, and music Google thinks you'll be interested in. Did I want to see a Google hub with Zigbee and/or Z-Wave radios?

Hands on with Google's Home Hub: The smart speaker for everything