It’s been two years since Google first launched the Nest Hub smart display (then called the Google Home Hub). Today, it’s back with the second generation Nest Hub, which packs in a load of new technology, some of which is designed to help you sleep better.
Externally, the new Hub looks and feels much like the old one. You get the same 7-inch screen sat on a material base. This design has aged surprisingly well, so there’s not the pressing need to change it. Amazon started off with a rather clunky smart display before evolving this year to the Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation).
Google has moved to use recycled plastic, with 54% of the new Nest Hub made out of old water bottles. It will be available in Chalk, Charcoal, Sand and Mist.
Key to the new Nest Hub is the Soli technology, which powers Motion Sense. This uses a low-energy radar (there’s no camera on this device) to detect motion. At its most basic it can be used for Quick Gestures, say playing or pausing music and video when your hand moves, all without you have to speak. You can also use Gestures to snooze an alarm with the wave of your hand.
In many ways, Google expects the new Nest Hub to become part of your bedroom and is using its Soli technology for sleep tracking. You get a preview of the Sleep Sensing service, which is available until 2022, and it will eventually become a paid-for add-on. Google says that Sleep Sensing uses the Hub’s sensors to build a picture of how you sleep and can be disabled at any time.
Microphones and Soli can be used to track motion and sleep disturbances, such as coughing and snoring (these are processed on-device), but the Hub can also monitor environmental issues, including light and temperature. Google can then tell you how you slept and, over time, give you insight into your sleep patterns with tips and recommendations to improve how you sleep.
There’s a Thread radio built-in, which will work with the upcoming new connectivity standard being developed by the Project Connected Home over IP group – a collection of companies looking to make smart home control easier. It’s not clear at the moment if you can connect Thread-enabled devices, such as the Nanoleaf Essentials series, on the first day; currently, the HomePod Mini is the only device with Thread support.
Other than that, the Nest Hub gives you everything that the Google Assistant can do, from smart home control to watching videos. Here, Cast is available, so you can stream audio and video from thousands of apps to the Hub, with built-in support for Netflix and Disney+.
What about the audio?
Google has improved audio on the new Hub, grabbing some features from the Nest Audio. As a result, Google is claiming that the new Hub has 50% more bass than the original Hub. With Stream Transfer, you’ll be able to move streaming video and audio between compatible devices in your home, using the touchscreen or your voice.
When is it out?
You can pre-order the Nest Hub now for $99.99/£89.99 and it will go on sale from March 30. Are the new features enough of a reason to upgrade from the old model? Our full review, coming soon will tell all. If you can’t wait you can check out the best smart speakers we’ve currently tested in this handy guide.