Google has announced the new Nest Hub 2, and updated version of its screen-equipped smart speaker that promises new features, including the ability to monitor how well you sleep, and make suggestions to improve your periods of rest.
There are a host of other new features, some of which are making their way to older Nest hardware as well, but some which will be exclusive to the new device because they need the new Soli sensor that’s able to track motion without using a camera. And, as with the first Nest Hub, there is no camera on this device at all - good news for people worried about privacy, especially if we’re expected to plonk this next to our beds.
There’s a boost to sound quality too, with deeper bass which Google claims is 50% more powerful than the original hub. That, it says, will make music and video a bit more dynamic. And, yes, YouTube is supported as are apps like Netflix and Disney+ so you can watch your shows while you cook, or even use the Hub 2 as a sort of bedroom TV replacement. You can cast to it as well - and these features immediately make Google’s product more flexible than Amazon’s rival.
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What about that sleep sensing feature then? Well, Google told T3 that it would be an entirely option part of the Hub, but one which it wanted to implement because 20% of owners apparently have their first-generation Hub in the bedroom. That makes sense, because the lack of cameras makes it much less creepy than other screen-equipped models. Motion Sense will learn about your sleep using the low-energy radar unit that’s built in. It can’t detect body shapes or faces and instead the output it sees looks more like an audio waveform than identifiable people.
When enabled, Motion Sense will watch how much you move around during the night. The audio sensors will listen for snoring and coughing, and report those events in the morning. It will also track the room temperature because that has a bearing on how well you sleep too. The system will learn about your pattern over time and results should become more accurate the more you use it.
Google says that the cough tracking, in particular, might be a sign that your bed might need some attention, perhaps with a new mattress or bedding. Our guide to finding the best mattress will help, if yours needs replacing.
Data will be sent to the Google Fit app and you’ll get to see recommendations and insights. Data is processed on the device for the most part. Some data will be stored in the cloud but Google pointed out this can be easily deleted in the morning or any time you choose. It’s initially going to be free, available on what the company is calling a “trial” until next year. It may then charge for this analysis or fold it into Fitbit premium services.
That motion tracker that monitors sleep will also let you gesture at the Hub 2, allowing you to snooze the morning alarm with a flick of the wrist. Convenient, but also kind of dangerous for getting to work on time, if you ask us.
The Nest Hub 2 will also help you get to sleep. The screen will dim in preparation for sleep and of course you can ask it to play relaxing sounds to usher you into a, hopefully, restful slumber.
Google Nest Hub 2 will cost $99.99 / £89.99 $AU149. You can order it from today on the Google Store and other retailers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Australia. There are several colours including Chalk, Charcoal, Sand and Mist.