Google today introduced the Home Hub, a smart display that speaks with Google Assistant and gives users a visual interface for smart home control and hands-free access to your calendar or photos.
Home Hub preorders start today and in retail stores in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia on October 22. The Home Hub has a 7-inch screen and costs $149. It comes in comes in aqua, chalk, charcoal, and sand.
The Home Hub can do all the things other speakers in the Home line of products can do, such as answer questions, play music, or give you your shopping list, but it does it all with visuals.
This is helpful when you want to ask a factual question, view a list, get help cooking, or skim your calendar.
Unique compared to similar devices from Amazon and Facebook, the Home Hub will have quick, hands-free YouTube search.
Home Hub will also come with Home View, which shows the state of all smart home devices in a home with a swipe down on the screen. Google Assistant is able to control devices from more than 1,000 manufacturers.
Home Hub will also be able to display Live Albums, a new feature from Google Photos that can automatically update albums with the people you want included in an album.
The Home Hub’s immediate rivals are Facebook’s new Portal devices and the Amazon Echo Show. Unlike its competitors, the Home Hub was consciously made without a camera, Google VP Diya Jolly said.
Facebook made its first-ever foray into consumer hardware Monday with the release of Portal and Portal+, devices that power Messenger video calls and show you Facebook photos and videos. Portal devices will also offer support for Alexa.
The 15.6-inch Portal+ and 10-inch Portal are expected to begin shipping in November.
The second-generation Echo Show made its debut at a September 20 event at Amazon headquarters in Seattle and comes with a series of upgrades, including a 10-inch screen, a bevy of new video offerings, and support for Skype calls by the end of the year.
With the exception of the Home Hub, each of the devices makes video calls, streams music and videos, controls smart home devices, and has the power to perform a broad range of tasks with AI assistants.
A new, more visual Google Assistant was introduced last week for Android smartphone users, as was the ability to log in voice app users with Google. Developers making Google Assistant actions can also now sell subscriptions.
Like Home speakers, the Home Hub can respond to the “Tell me about my day” or “Good morning” command — soon with the voice of John Legend — to run you through your to-do list and calendar, tell you about your commute to work, and catch you up on the latest news.