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Google I / O: Smart home messages we expect from the conference



  google-home-hub-15

Chris Monroe / CNET

Google may be ready to expand its smart home line. The company's annual developer conference, Google I / O is just around the corner and kicks out on May 7. This year, we expect updates of the company's Android mobile software and maybe cool new enhanced gadgets. It can also be a great year for Google's smart home efforts.

At CES in January, Google showed a trimmed version of a smart screen intended for you next to Lenovo Smart Clock . We've seen leaks of a larger smart screen with a built-in Nest Cam that can be called Nest Hub Max .

Google also debuted Google Assistant Connect at CES. The idea behind Assistant Connect is to allow companies to build hardware that speaks directly to nearby Google Home devices via Bluetooth. Google showed an e-ink display and a button as prototypes. The device sends a question to a nearby Google Home, Google's cloud handles the data, then the display can show current time or weather. It's a similar approach for one Amazon launched last autumn with its Amazon Echo devices serving satellite functions Microwave and Wall Clock products.

At I / O, look for Google update us on Lenovo Smart Clock and Google Assistant Connect and hopefully debut a new smart screen from Nest.

Nest Hub Max

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A screenshot of leaked info.


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In the previous month, Google accidentally seemed to leak out a new device called Nest Hub Max on the company's product page. A screenshot captured before the note was taken down boasts of a "10-inch screen and stereo speakers".

Provided this product exists, it can be easily started at I / O. Expect to have a built-in Nest Cam – so it can double as a security device complete with customizable motion alerts. Including the word "Max" in the title also suggests that it will have a somewhat large footprint focusing on high quality sound quality, such as the company's Google Home Max smart speaker.

Otherwise, you can expect the device to be a smart screen with many of the same features as the current Google homepage. Home Hub $ 150 combines a smart speaker with a touchscreen display. The screen shows the forecast when you ask about the weather. You can check your calendar or browse local restaurants for a place to eat. You can also use it to watch videos, watch pictures and check out your smart home devices.





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The current Google home page is relatively affordable – most other smart screens cost $ 250. It is also compact and cute with a 7-inch screen and can appeal to privacy-oriented individuals as it has no embedded camera.

Nest Hub Max can complement it well. Google used a similar strategy with smart speakers. In addition to the $ 400 Google Home Max, the search giant still offers the original $ 130 Google Home and $ 50 Google Home Mini – all of which have the same voice assistant. The idea was to give the customers a variety of options to choose which sound quality they wanted.

Google took a similar approach when smart impressions were first rolled out last year. In addition to Google Home Hub, Lenovo JBL and LG offer all smart screens with the same Google Assistant and similar features. Each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses in hardware.

A Nest Hub Max can hopefully mean that Google finally integrates Nest into its own Google Home . Although Google owns Nest, you still need to use the separate Nest app when installing a new Nest thermostat or a Nest Cam. The Google homepage has become much better in recent months, and the Nest products installation options would help make away with the much more inflated on your smartphone.

Google Assistant Connect





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While a new smart screen with an embedded Nest Cam can mark this year's smart home messages at I / O, I also expect Google Assistant Connect to lay the foundation for the company's smart home future. Google will undoubtedly have several prototypes to demonstrate its abilities along with dedicated sessions that teach developers what they can do with Connect.

Over the years, Android Things looked like it would be Google's bridge to a more robust range of smart home devices. Android Saker was a trimmed version of the company's mobile operating system designed for smart home devices. Last year it was officially launched along with Google's first smart screens. Lenovo, JBL and LG also used Android Things as operating systems for their respective smart screens. It looked like they turned out to be cool new units, and as a proof of concept that shows what Android Things could do .

Earlier this year Google focused Android Things and did It is only a platform for smart screens and smart speakers. Google Assistant Connect can be a potential replacement option as a way for developers to focus on creative hardware and secure it to Google's cloud.

At CES, Google showed its Connect service, allowing various devices to communicate directly with a nearby Google Home Mini smart speaker to trigger various features. A credit card size, Connect-driven e-ink display ping Home Mini for weather and traffic information. A connection-based button lights up. Google says you can program a hardware device using Connect to do something that Google Assistant can do through voice commands.

Devices with Google Assistant Connect would be tied to a Google-focused smarthome because smarts come through a chat with a nearby Google Home speaker or a display device via Bluetooth. In exchange, developers can focus on hardware while Google handles much of back-end computing. The nearby smart speaker takes care of sending and receiving information from the cloud, and you should be able to configure Connect devices with the Google homepage.

If developers come aboard, Google Assistant Connect can help the search giant greatly increase its range of smart home devices in the future and it would help Google's home app get a more central place in your smart home setup.

Lenovo Smart Clock

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The petite Lenovo Smart Clock .


James Martin / CNET

I got the chance to use a working prototype of Lenovo Smart Clock on CES. No speculation is needed on this; The Lenovo Smart Clock is real, mostly ready and coming out soon. It would make sense for Google to show it again at I / O and possibly announce an official release date.

The watch would provide an interesting contrast to the possible Nest Hub Max, as it becomes even smaller than the current layout of Google's smart screens. The unit we saw had a 4-inch screen and no camera. The display features have been trimmed for your bed – it can only show weather, calendar, traffic and music. Like the Lenovo Smart Display and Google Home Page, it still has Google Assistant built-in and can respond to all the same voice commands, but it can't play videos, show recipes, or any of the other features I've come to enjoy smart screens.





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For example, 30 minutes before your alarm, the display starts to glow to gently leave you from sleep. I really liked that feature when testing alarm clocks earlier this year. You can also snooze by whacking the top. It is reasonably priced at $ 80, which is more than the Google Home Mini of $ 50, but less than the current slice of smart screens.

$ 80 is still more than any of the best non-smart alarms I tested and the trimmed feature may limit Lenovo Smart Clocks appeal over other smart screens. Still, I'm curious to see if it will win over consumers and add another competent piece to Google's already robust range of smart screens.

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