Alongside the Pixel 4 devices, Google also announced the Nest Mini and Nest Wifi at the Made by Google event just hours ago. Refreshed versions of the popular Google Home Mini home assistant and the Google Wifi mesh smart Wi-Fi system, these home devices focus on usability improvements to make interactions and smart features more accessible to more.
Nest Mini (SGD 79)
Though it sports a similar form-factor, the Nest Mini contains several improvements over its predecessor, the Google Home Mini, which also launched at an MSRP of S$79.
One of the greatest improvements is the inclusion of a dedicated machine learning chip onboard the Nest Mini. With one TeraOPS of processing power, the Nest Mini is able to internalise processing that required voice data to be transmitted to Google’s data centres.
This not only means greater user privacy, but potentially much faster responses and also more personalised assistance as the Mini learns the most common commands of users.
While the original Home Mini provided a minimalist, affordable, no-frills smart speaker for entry-level users, it had notably lacked volume and bass when used to play music. The Nest Mini improves on the sound with two times the bass of its predecessor, utilising a custom driver and proprietary tuning software to make music sound even better.
Another compromise the Home Mini made was the lack of physical controls, requiring instead voice interactions even for functions that have to be accessed quickly. The Nest Mini improves on that, allowing users to immediately pause audio by tapping on the centre, and on either side for volume control. Ultrasound sensors also detect when your hand is nearby, lighting up the indicators and touch controls on the otherwise minimalist, fabric-clad device.
Other improvements include dynamic environment sensing, meaning the assistant will respond louder if it detects a noisy environment. It also allows for greater integration across several Google Nest and Home products, moving music and podcasts to specific speakers or played simultaneously on groups of speakers. Family members can also use the speakers as an intercom or as a home phone.
It also comes with a simple wall mount if users want to save tabletop space.
Nest Wifi (Router SGD 229, Point SGD 199)
Following up on the success of the Google Wifi, the best-selling router worldwide, the Nest Wifi repackages it in a more elegant exterior reminiscent of a marshmallow with improvements to connection speed, coverage and integration with Google Assistant.
A mesh system, the Nest Wifi is a system of two products – a baseline Nest Wifi router (SGD 229), with add-on Nest Wifi point (SGD 199) devices that spread the network throughout the house.
Its redesign is essential as routers tend to be quarried off to a corner or even in a closet due to their ugly looks. The ideal position for optimal coverage is in the middle of a room, set about waist height. That’s why the Nest Wifi’s redesign is essential.
While the router boasts better performance and connectivity in a sleeker, more harmonious form-factor, the point brings functionality to the next level by acting as a smart speaker. Slightly taller than the Nest Mini, the Nest Wifi point similarly lights up when it detects a hand nearby, and projects a ring of light at its base that expands as the volume is raised.
Google claims that the Nest Wifi router and point two-pack would have the same coverage as the three-pack of its predecessor Google Wifi, at around 3,800 sqft. The Nest Wifi is also compatible with Google Wifi, and also with other mesh routers that support 802.11s.
Better WiFi radios and an improved antenna layout have contributed to the connectivity improvements. The Nest Wifi supports 5GHz and 2.4GHz with 4×4 and 2×2 arrays, with AC2200 MU-MIMO for the router and AC1200 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi for each point.
However, it notably lacks support for WiFi 6, and is limited to 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards. Smart home functionality is augmented with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Thread, which means functionality and compatibility with other smart home devices will likely only improve in the pipeline.
Sustainability has also been increasingly a focus for Google, and it touts its new Nest products as 100 percent carbon-neutral and built partially from recycled plastics.