A new tech product from Google, the Google Home Hub, is here to make living in a smart home so much simpler.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated October 22, 2018
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Google Home Hub Tout
Credit: target.com

If you’re like me, your vision of the future of smart homes includes a central device that controls everything in the home: a super-smart remote that lets you control lights, locks, music, and more in every corner of the house from the comfort of your bed (or somewhere else in your home). That central device is not quite here, but the Google Home Hub, one of the latest smart home product launches from Google, is the closest thing to that control center I’ve seen yet.

To buy: Google Home Hub, $149; target.com.

The sleek, screened device fits neatly on a countertop, side table, or desk and offers a comprehensive view of all the smart home tools in your home, allowing smart home residents to control them all—the Hub is compatible with more than 10,000 smart home devices—from a single dashboard. From a Hub placed in a bedroom, you can lock your front door, see who’s knocking at the door, turn off the living room lamp that always seems to be left on, and more (once you have those corresponding smart locks, front door cameras, and lights, of course).

If keeping track of all the smart devices in your home (and turning them off at the end of the day) sometimes feels like more of a hassle than it should be, the Google Home Hub can simplify the whole process. It organizes your devices by room visually on its screen, so you can see exactly what’s in use—and if a child is watching TV downstairs past his or her bedtime, for example—and adjust the devices as needed.

Beyond its hub abilities, which are my favorite Google Home Hub features, the device doubles as a digital picture frame when not in use. It pulls images straight from your Google Photos albums, displaying photos you’ve added, so the device is not just a blank screen whenever you’re not using it.

You can use the screen to check the weather and your commute, watch YouTube tutorials and other videos, and more, too, of course—the Google assistant’s standard voice capabilities are also available in the Google Home Hub.

One caveat: The Google Home Hub works best with other Google smart home devices, including the Google Home Max and the Google Home Mini. If you have already invested in several Amazon Alexa devices, you won’t get the same range of options with the Google Home Hub as you would if you had mostly Google Home devices.

If you’re new to smart homes and you’re wondering if the Google Home Hub is right for you, I would suggest starting with a more beginner device—like the Google Home Mini, which starts at just $49—instead, to ease into the smart home lifestyle. If you have a slew of smart home devices, though, the Google Home Hub can certainly help manage them all in one single dashboard. (You can use the updated Google Home App to manage everything when you’re away from home.)

If the Google Home Hub isn’t exactly the central control center of my futuristic movie dreams, it’s pretty darn close—and frequent software updates from Google mean it’s just going to keep getting better and better.

The Google Home Hub in white and in black (Chalk and Charcoal) are available for purchase from Target and other retailers for $149.For a little color, blue and pink options (Aqua and Sand) can be purchased at google.com.