Google has announced that its new Home app will be available to the public starting May 11th, marking the end of the invite-only preview phase. The app has undergone a complete overhaul, addressing various improvements such as the addition of a much-needed Favorites tab, an enhanced camera interface, support for numerous new device types, and increased control options for existing devices. Additionally, iPhone users can now set up Matter devices within the Google Home app.
This announcement finalizes Google’s comprehensive support for Matter, the new smart home standard, following Amazon’s recent introduction of Thread compatibility. Although Google played a significant role in developing Matter, it has been slower than other companies in expanding support since the standard’s launch last year. However, with the release of iOS 16.5, users can now set up Smarts home contralateral devices using any smart home platform app on any smartphone. Previously, iOS devices were limited to using the Apple Home or Samsung SmartThings app for adding Matter gadgets to a home network.
The Google Home app is now genuinely functional
The newly introduced Favorites tab in the Home app allows users to customize and quickly access frequently used smart home devices, such as lights, locks, and cameras. Furthermore, the Wear OS Home app, set to launch on May 15th, brings improved Home app controls to users’ wrists. This update includes animated previews for camera notifications, convenient on-wrist controls for devices, and direct access to the Favorites tab, enabling quick interaction with desired devices.
Favorites can include any home-use devices, such as cameras, lighting, and locks
In June, Google plans to release an updated version of the Home app specifically designed for tablets, adding support for portrait orientation. Moreover, the new Pixel Tablet will feature a Home Panel available in its Hub mode, allowing effortless access to devices like lights, locks, cameras, and thermostats without the need to unlock the tablet or switch users.
Would a Pixel Tablet function as a smart display under any other name?
The revamped Google Home app offers significant improvements and aims to become the go-to platform for setting up, controlling, and automating smart homes. It provides users with a fully customizable Favorites tab, organized device controls, advanced automation capabilities, and a unified Settings page. Additionally, an inbox feature collects alerts about devices and services, ensuring users stay informed about their smart home ecosystem.
Camera support has also received substantial enhancements in the new Home app, with improved live feed viewing, faster camera clips, and a more intuitive interface. While legacy Nest cameras are not fully integrate into the new app yet, Google plans to include the Nest Cam indoor and Nest Cam outdoor first-generation models in the preview app starting in July. Other Nest camera models, such as Nest IQ Cams, Nest Hello doorbell, and the camera inside the Nest Hub Max, will receive support at a later stage.
The new Pixel Tablet won’t have a Matter controller or Thread border router when it first launches
The upcoming Pixel Tablet, alongside other Android tablets, will receive the updated Home app, offering an enhanced multiuser touchscreen smart home control experience. The Home Panel feature allows quick access to essential controls directly from the lock screen or the Android quick settings drop-down menu. However, it’s important to note that the Pixel Tablet is position as a tablet built for the home, rather than a dedicated smart display.
Google’s commitment to expanding the functionality of the Home app is evident. As it aims to deliver a comprehensive and user-friendly smart home control solution. With the introduction of the new app and upcoming updates. Google is striving to provide a seamless experience for users looking to manage their smart home devices efficiently.
Better camera support is provided, and older Nest Cam models are appreciated
However, there are still some limitations. For example, you can’t manually create clips, and older Nest Cam models can only show a live view in the Home app. Until Google finishes migrating all legacy Nest cameras to the Home app, users will still need to rely on the Nest app for functions like viewing recorded videos and adjusting settings. Google plans to start the migration process in July, beginning with the Nest Cam indoor (first-gen) and followed by the Nest Cam outdoor (first-gen). The Home app will provide a similar experience to the current Nest cameras. It’s worth noting that there is no update on whether the new app will support the Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm, as it still requires the Nest app for full functionality.
Regarding the Google Home camera web interface, it is currently available for preview users who can sign in at home.google.com. Google is actively working on improving the experience before making it available to all users.
The updated Home app makes extensive use of the Nest app and is significantly more camera-friendly
In addition to the Home app updates, there are mentions of a new Pixel Tablet and a refreshed Google Home tablet app. The new tablet app will initially launch on the Pixel Tablet. the new Pixel Fold, and third-party Android tablets, with support for iPad coming later in the summer. The updated tablet app will support both portrait and landscape orientations and aims to provide a better multiuser.
Touchscreen smart home control experience compared to the aging Nest Hub interface. One notable feature is the Home Panel, which appears as an icon on the lock screen when the tablet is dock on its charging speaker dock in Home mode. It allows quick access to controls for Favorites, Automations, Actions, and Spaces. The Home Panel will also be available in the Android quick settings drop-down menu for smartphones, replacing the previous device controls view. It will roll out in June to Pixel devices and eventually to third-party Android devices with Android 14.
Despite these enhancements, it’s important to note that the Pixel Tablet is not position as a smart display. While it offers features like a digital photo frame. Voice commands for Google Assistant, and Chromecast capabilities when docked in Hub mode, it is more expensive than traditional smart displays. The Pixel Tablet is priced at $499 compared to $229 for the Nest Hub Max. Furthermore, it’s not initially designed to be a Matter controller or Thread border router, although there may be possibilities for expansion in the future.
Pixel Tablet represents a step toward a more capable smart home controller, but its effectiveness will need to be evaluate based on personal experience and requirements.