Google keeps secrets when it wants to (e.g., the Google+ security flaw it discovered earlier this year), so all the “leaks” leading up to today’s announcement of its new Google Home Hub smart display were likely engineered to dissuade people from pre-ordering Amazon’s second-generation Echo Show, which goes on sale next week. 

We like the new Echo Show—a lot. We haven’t laid hands on the Google Home Hub yet, but the following five features are the ones we find the most interesting.

The price tag

Selling a smart display for $149 severely undercuts Amazon, but it’s sure to irritate Google’s partners, too. JBL is the biggest loser here, considering that it sells its 8-inch smart display, the JBL Link View, for $250. Lenovo’s 8-inch Smart Display, meanwhile, is priced at $200, and its 10-inch model sells for $250.

google home hub price Katherine Stevenson / IDG


Google let JBL and Lenovo blaze the display-equipped Google Assistant trail, and its own product isn’t a radical departure from those companies’ efforts. The Google Home Hub has a 7-inch touchscreen, but Google hasn’t revealed the screen’s resolution.

Ambient EQ is the most interesting feature here: The display automatically fine-tunes its brightness and even color balance to match the ambient lighting in your room. If you have smart bulbs that automatically change their color temperature based on the time of day—cool in the morning, warm in the evening—the Google Home’s display will change accordingly. The display will also automatically turn off at night, so that it doesn’t interfere with sleep.

When you’re not otherwise using the Google Home Hub, it will display any of the photo albums you’ve created in Google Photos, or any photo albums that have been shared with you. A new feature called Live Album will automatically collect the photos you take and store in the cloud. Live Album uses machine learning to filter out blurry photos, overexposed shots, and even duplicate photos.

downtime Katherine Stevenson / IDG

To help enforce family rules—such as screen-time limitations—and to add privacy protections, you can program the Google Home Hub to go into Downtime mode, during which the device will not interact with anyone in the home, but you’ll still receive important notifications, such as alarms.  

Tight Nest integration

If you’ve gone all-in with Nest products, you’ll appreciate that the two Alphabet divisions are working to tightly integrate Google’s smart speaker with Nest’s smart home product line. Google calls this initiative the “thoughtful home” and it won’t be limited to only Nest products. Swipe down from the top of the display and a new mode called Home View shows you the state of all your smart home devices: The current ambient temperature, the status of your smart bulbs, smart locks, and more.

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