Google Home Hub is enjoyable for both the tech-savvy set, as well as your sentimental grandmother

Google Home Hub
Courtesy of Google

Google Home Hub sounds like another slightly confusing smart home device that promises to streamline your home life by adding one more thing to your already cluttered (or maybe not yet started) smart home.

We won’t lie to you—we love a good smart home gadget. Unless you’ve got a home full of smart devices, they aren’t always the most useful household item beyond telling you the day’s weather forecast. But the integration of Google Photos turns the device into something that everyone in the entire family can truly enjoy, at all hours of the day, without needing a single voice command. While the hub’s biggest use case does require adding yet another app to your repertoire, it’s one that’s worth it.

Courtesy of Google

It’s All About the Photos

Most smart home hubs on the market are just speakers with some added AI. There are a few others with screens, but those focus on video chatting. The Google Home Hub, however, puts the spotlight on another Google app: Google Photos.

Google Photos is a popular (and free) photo backup app where you can upload images from your phone’s camera roll, computer, or anywhere else to be safely stored in the cloud. Google hopes that it’s where you’ve been backing up all your photos, and now the new Google Home Hub can tap into years of memories in the form of a frequently refreshed digital photo frame.

Essentially, the Google Home Hub aims to be useful beyond the most common smart speaker tasks, such as asking for the weather report, playing music, and starting kitchen timers when cooking dinner. For the majority of the day, most smart devices just sit there waiting for your next request, but the Google Home Hub’s screen is constantly rolling through your images. You can choose between showing a variety of photos (Google’s AI promises to choose the best ones you’ve got), photos of certain people, or photos from a certain album.

Courtesy of Google

With connection to the Google Photos app, the images can update instantly with new additions, taking away the usual pain of updating a digital photo frame.

It also adds a personal touch to the device, providing appeal to even the least tech-savvy of family members. Google’s aim is to take family members and visitors down memory lane with the Google Home Hub, and it works.

On-Screen Utility

The screen is handy for more than just memories, though. Asking for the weather will prompt a page of forecast info for the week, and just tapping the screen lets you swipe through your calendar, daily news, and videos you might be interested in.

Video is a big component of the device, and Google encourages it to be your next kitchen companion by bringing up a YouTube video for the recipe you’re trying, or a list of ingredients and steps. Like previous Google Home devices, it has access to thousands of recipes from the likes of MyRecipes and the New York Times.

Courtesy of Google

There are also little details that make the hub an easy addition to the home, like the light sensor that automatically dims the screen to reflect the light in the room. When the room goes dark for the night, the Google Home Hub switches from a photo reel to a low-lit clock, making it a great bedside companion.

Speaking of the light sensor, it’s taken the place of a camera in the top center of the screen. Going camera-free is a surprising move, since nearly every smart device seems to have an integrated camera, but one that makes the device feel overall safer to place in a bedroom or the home in general. Moreover, this design makes the Hub feel like a decor piece, instead of just a smart home gadget.The Google Home Hub retails for $149, and comes in four colors: Chalk (white), Charcoal (black), Aqua (a light teal blue) and Sand (a soft pink). Find it online at the Google Store, or instore at retailers like Target and Best Buy.

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