Before we get onto the Google Nest Hub Max, bear with us: you might have noticed that we've just launched The Hub – our take on informing you about the latest smart home technology buys and advice. Our motive? To cut through the jargon, debunk myths about what smart buys you need, which ones you can do without and, importantly – to present it to you in a way that's easily understood. Much as we love our colleagues over at TechRadar, we can't all be tech experts – or even technophiles.
Which brings us really neatly to the new Nest Hub Max – pretty big news from Google's smart home team. It seems they, like us, have quickly understood that not that many of us are interested in making our homes smart, but are interested in what smart homes can do for us. And the first step in this is to bring the Home products under the Nest brand (bear with us, we'll get to the meat in a minute).
'We’ve been working to make the smart home a little less complicated, and well, more helpful. It’s a home where products work together to help you feel comfortable and safe, keep an eye on things when you’re away, and connect you to friends and family,' says Rishi Chandra, VP of product and general manager, Good Home and Nest. 'Our first step as Google Nest is to go beyond the idea of a “smart home,” and to focus instead on creating a “helpful home.”'
So, what is the Nest Hub Max and, more importantly, what can it do for us? 'Nest Hub Max has all the things you love about Nest Hub (formerly Google Home Hub),' continues Rishi Chandra. 'It has a digital photo frame powered by Google Photos and the home view dashboard, which gives you full control of your connected device. With our new display, you'll get a bigger 10-inch HD screen and a smart camera that helps you keep an eye on your home and keep in touch with family and friends. Nest Hub Max is specifically designed for those shared places in the home where your family and friends gather.'
And how can you use it? Here are a few suggestions:
As an extra TV – whether in the kitchen or for the kids to use while you watch something more edifying on the main TV. With a subscription, the Nest Hub Max can stream your favourite live shows and sports on YouTube TV. All you do is tell the Nest Hub Max what you want to watch or ask the Assistant (you can read our review on that).
As a smart assistant – learn how to cook, play your music (there's a powerful rear-facing woofer), and see who’s at the front door.
As a smart camera – the Nest Hub Max has a Nest Cam that you can switch on when you’re away; download the Nest app to your phone and check what's happening from wherever you are in the world. You'll get motion notifications, too.
The camera, together with Google Duo, makes video calling easy, too. Chat live or leave video messages for other members of your household.
As a digital photo frame – with Recent Highlights from Google Photos, anytime you take photos on your phone, your best shots will show up on your Nest Hub Max automatically. You can share your Recent Highlights with friends and family, so they can see your latest photos on their Nest Hub Max, too – no manual updates required. And you can enjoy specific photos by asking: “Hey Google, show pictures from Cornwall” will automatically bring photos from that location.
Voice and Face Match – with these features, the Assistant can recognize your voice and respond specifically to you. So if, in the morning, you walk past the Nest Hub Max, the Assistant will greet you with everything from your calendar to commuting details.
Quick Gestures: pause and resume any music, podcasts and other entertainment playing on the device by just looking at it and raising your hand. Perfect for those moments of chaos in the house or when the baby's asleep and you don’t want to raise your voice.
To control your entire home: Nest Hub Max can be the centre of your smart home, helping you and everyone in the household control all of your compatible connected products from home view. No more switching between apps to turn on the lights: the home view dashboard gives you complete control, or you can always say “Hey Google, turn on the lights.” You can also control your compatible TVs and speakers from Nest Hub Max with your voice or from one dashboard. You can turn them on and off, control thhe volume, play, pause and search.
Nest Hub Max will be available soon in the UK for £219 from the Google Store (join the waiting list), Argos, Dixons and John Lewis & Partners. In the US, it will retail at around $229 on the Google Store and at Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and more; and in Australia, it will cost around AUS$349.