Google’s second-generation Nest Hub smart display is a year old, so it’s time to wonder if a new hardware release is around the corner. 9to5Google has a new rumor to consider: Google is “working on a new Nest Hub for 2022 with a dockable tablet form factor where the screen detaches from a base/speaker.” The site didn’t provide further details, but the idea would fit in Google’s recent product plan.
Since its inception, Google Assistant hardware has essentially copied Amazon’s Echo line. The original Google Home speaker released two years after the Amazon Echo. The Home Mini came out a year and a half after the Echo Dot. The Google Home Hub smart display hit the market a year after the Echo Show. Google Assistant smart clocks launched a year and a half after the Echo Spot. The lack of hardware innovation from Google isn’t a huge deal since Google is generally considered to have a better voice command system, but it’s pretty clear where Google goes shopping for a product roadmap.
And, of course, Amazon has a whole line of tablets that turn into smart displays. In 2018, the company built smart display functionality into Fire OS, Amazon’s fork of Android. Whenever you stick an Amazon tablet into one of the official docks, it automatically transitions into smart display mode. Google experimented with an “ambient mode” for Android phones a year and a half after Amazon’s launch (Google’s timing is remarkably consistent), but the feature was initially only available on specific third-party phones. Ambient mode did not make it to devices like the Pixel 6. The feature also doesn’t make much sense on phones, which generally aren’t readable from across the room. Smart displays typically are. A tablet ambient mode would have been better, but Google’s launch in 2019 was during a dead period for Android tablets.
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