Google renames Assistant home devices, debuts $229 Nest Hub Max

Google's Nest Hub Max is a smart speaker with a camera built

The Nest Hub Max's announcement coincides with a rebranding of the Google Home Hub, which Google is now being called the Nest Hub. With Facematch, the Nest Hub Max displays information specific to you, pulled from your Google account, including tidbits like your schedule for the day.

Branding complications aside, the Nest Hub Max looks pretty impressive on paper, essentially aiming to bring the best of the Google Home Hub and Google Home Max worlds together at a fairly reasonable price. At full volume, the Nest Hub Max sounds good, with surprisingly strong bass, although a bit tinnier than I expected. Here's what it's like.

The camera and microphone can both be switched off, which we're told is in direct response to customer feedback, and that customers should be aware of all the sensors aboard, a direct reference to the revelation that the Nest Secure, the company's alarm system, now only available in the U.S., included a microphone that didn't appear anywhere in the specs or documentation. As well as being used for video calling, facial identification and even some rather nifty object tracking to ensure you're always in frame, this camera doubles as a Nest security camera too, keeping sentry while you're out and about. Amazon jumped out to an early lead with its Echo smart speakers and displays, but Google has been gaining ground.

One cool feature that is possible because of the camera is that if you're playing music, instead of yelling "Hey, Google!" you can simply hold your palm up to the camera and the music should pause.

Google says that its other products, like Google Home and Google Home Mini, will be rebranded to Nest as well, but it's unclear when exactly that will happen. The Hub Max automatically shows who is at the door when someone rings the Nest Hello doorbell.

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The Nest Hub Max isn't much of a surprise.

Like the leaks suggested, it'll be able to support video calls via Google Duo and the camera itself supports a wide angle lens.

The screen of the Nest Hub Max can perform all of the functions Nest Hub performs.

As is the norm for Google these days, artificial intelligence was mentioned a lot at IO 2019: it underpins just about everything Google is doing at the moment. Also, last year's Home Hub is getting renamed to Nest Hub, and is now available for just $129 (It was previously $149).

If you want a device that has better entertainment features, camera-based security features, and a bunch of new bells and whistles? Meanwhile, flipping a physical switch will shut off both the microphone and the camera entirely. As Google explains it, the company's entire Home product lineup is moving "under the Nest brand" as a "natural next step" in Google and Nest's joint efforts to "create a more helpful home".

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