Google Home Mini officially discontinued – the end of an era
Google is burying the little smart speaker, and it looks like it’s finally ending the Google Home era. We look back at the development of Google’s smart home division.
With the Google Home product line, the search engine provider brought smart speakers into the homes of its customers for the first time in 2017. The Google Assistant became a household helper and controlled the entire smart home on demand. With the Google Home Mini, the last home speaker is now disappearing from the virtual store shelves. Time for a little look back at Google’s smart home brand.
Google Home: The answer to Alexa
Four years ago, Google introduced Google Assistant with its Google Home smart WiFi speakers at its in-house I/O trade show. The smart speaker was the answer to Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa (Guide), which launched a year earlier on the first Echo smart speaker.
In addition to playing music, the Google Home could be used to control smart gadgets connected via Wi-Fi, thermostats, robotic vacuum cleaners or the lights in the house. Since then, Google Assistant answers all kinds of questions, sets timers, makes calls or reminds of important appointments.
Google Assistant: Eternal runner-up in the Smart Home
Two built-in microphones should hear voice commands from all over the home – as long as they are preceded by the activation words “Ok, Google” and later “Hey Google”. According to Google, only the last second is recorded. If the microphones of the Google Home hear the activation word in this time span, the voice assistant reacts and saves the following voice interaction on the Google servers.
Even then, the recording of ambient noise alarmed data protectionists and users alike. The skepticism has probably not really prevailed because the market for voice assistance is growing: According to a study, 52 percent of German online users now use a voice assistant at least once a week.
In the battle between Alexa vs. Siri vs. Google Assistant, Amazon is ahead, at least in the smart speaker segment. Google Assistant is preferably used on mobile devices.
Amazon has always taken more risks when developing new smart speakers and smart displays, offering a wide range of different devices, and also likes to experiment occasionally. The Echo Show 10s display automatically rotates and tracks users during video calls. A few weeks ago, Amazon unveiled its first Alexa robot.
Nest Labs incorporation ushers in end of Google Home brand
Google seemed to be more focused on the basics in the beginning. At the launch of Google Home, there was a medium, a large, and a small smart speaker. However, Google Home and Google Home Max disappeared relatively soon after smart home specialist Nest Labs Inc. was incorporated into Google’s hardware division in 2018.
With the Nest incorporation, more smart-home products should follow. It kicked off with the Nest Smart Thermostat. It was with this class of devices that Nest Labs made its name in the first place in 2011. Nest thermostats learn and adjust the room temperature to the preferences of its users.
Google invested in the company back then and would eventually acquire it outright in early 2014. 3.2 billion US dollars were due. Until its incorporation in 2018, Nest Labs was an independent subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.
Google Nest: new product line replaces Google Home
A year later, Google announced a new smart home brand, Google Nest, and released the new Nest Audio and Nest Mini smart speakers shortly after. 2019 saw the launch of Google’s first smart home, which received a successor with sleep analytics in the form of the Google Nest Hub 2 this spring.
The Google Home name would gradually disappear. The devices have since been given away on and off as freebies for YouTube Premium subscriptions, flogged off in discount promotions, or offered in a two-pack for the price of one. Today, there are only remnants. With the Google Home Mini, the last smart speaker from Google’s US web store is now disappearing, and with it the brand name that brought Google Assistant into our living rooms.
Nest, take over.