Something to look forward to: Google announces the Nest Hub Max, a bigger and more capable version of the Google Home Hub. This also marks the beginning of the merger between the Nest and Google Home hardware divisions. Google is trying to streamline its smart home portfolio while highlighting its focus on privacy and security.
Outside of the Pixel 3a and 3a XL announcement, the only other hardware announcement at Google I/O was the Nest Hub Max. The Hub Max is a bigger Google Home Hub with bigger sound and a camera. It's also Google's attempt to streamline its smart home device portfolio by placing them all under the Nest branding.
On the outside, the Hub Max doesn't stray too far from the smaller Home Hub design language. It has a 10-inch matte touchscreen that can adjust its color temperature based on the ambient light. Like the Home Hub, the Hub Max can display currently playing music, photos, weather, receipes, and play YouTube and Hulu videos.
The primary difference on the front is the inclusion of a camera. This addition allows it to recognize your face and show you relevant information like calendar appointments from your specific Google account. You'll also be able to make video calls using Google Duo. Privacy was a big theme during the keynote and as such, you'll be able to disable the camera and microphone using a physical switch on the back. Unfortunately, there isn't a built-in slider to physically cover the camera.
One cool feature that is possible because of the camera is that if you're playing music, instead of yelling "Hey, Google!" you can simply hold your palm up to the camera and the music should pause. You can also do the same gesture to resume playing.
The other major feature (and likely reasoning for the Max branding outside of the size) are the bigger speakers. There are two 10-watt tweeters in the front and a 30-watt woofer in the back. Early hands-on claim the sound is much bigger and sounds decent, but won't be replacing your Sonos speakers any time soon.
Google is merging Nest and Google Home hardware divisions, to that end, the original Google Home Hub has been renamed to Google Nest Hub. The Nest Hub Max can also become a Nest security camera with a indicator light to let you know when it's on and the light can't be turned off (remember, Google is all about data privacy now).
Whether or not you'll be interested in this will likely depend on where you land on data privacy. To get the full features of the Hub Max, Google basically needs to know everything about you (including facial recognition). However, many people are understandably uncomfortable with Google knowing so much about them. Google tried to highlight ways in which it cares about your privacy but convenience ultimately comes at a price.
If you're still interested, the Google Nest Home Max will come out this summer at $229.