Google showed a new device called Nest Hub Max, with a 10-inch display and a built-in camera, stepping up its efforts to give Google Assistant and other services a place in the home.
The announcement at the Google I/O developer conference is the latest twist in the search giant’s competition with Amazon and its Alexa voice assistant. Amazon jumped out to an early lead with its Echo smart speakers and displays, but Google has been gaining ground.
Google is pitching the new device as “the new kitchen TV,” thanks to its video capabilities. With that goal, Google becomes the latest tech company to attempt to bring a digital hub into the kitchen. Microsoft and Windows PC makers have been working on this for years, with mixed results.
Nest Hub Max will sell for $229 starting later this summer, as the company drops the price of its previous, smaller Hub device to $129. The Hub Max serves as a smart home controller, video-calling device, digital photo frame, indoor camera, and video and music player.
As part of the news, Google says it’s unifying all of its smart home devices under the Nest brand. Nest was acquired by Google in 2014, but was part of Google parent Alphabet before it was merged with Google last year.
Video calling on the Hub Max works via Google Duo, using the camera’s wide-angle lens. It allows for calls with iOS, Android, or Windows PCs via the Google Chrome browser. There’s stereo sound via a rear-facing woofer. Google also stressed privacy features, saying that nothing is streamed or recorded unless the users intentionally enable it. A physical switch on the back disconnects the camera and mics.
In other news from Google I/O, the Google Assistant is getting on-device AI processing and a new feature that promises to better understand the people, places and events important to individual users, as part of a broader update for the search giant’s voice assistant.
Google showed the next version of Android, Q, with features including a dark mode and better gesture controls. The company also announced lower-priced phones, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, starting at $399.