In case you weren’t already aware, Google Home Hub has a built-in web browser. It’s not a standalone app that’s meant to be used by itself, but you can manually navigate around the web to just about anywhere. The existence of the browser isn’t a new addition, but it is a “hidden” feature that many might not yet know about.
While many missed it, Variety’s Janko Rottgers noted the existence of the browser in his initial review of the Home Hub:
The Home Hub doesn’t have a browser app. However, searching for an image often leads to results that then link to third-party websites like Wikipedia. Follow that link, and you are able to browse pretty much the entire online encyclopedia — with one notable exception: Home Hub doesn’t offer any on-screen keyboard, and there’s no option to dictate text input. This means that you won’t be able to search for anything.
How to use the web browser on Google Home Hub
To pull up the browser, simply use the normal hotword “OK Google” to search for a query that might give you a Wikipedia result. You can try “Who is Nelson Mandela?” or “What is a giraffe?”. For these queries (and many others) you should see a Wikipedia result with a tappable link near the bottom. From there, you can scroll around to read more.
While there’s no way to manually navigate to a specific webpage, you can find your way to just about any site on the web by searching for a relevant Wikipedia entry and clicking the various links. For instance, if you wanted to navigate to W3schools.com, you can ask “What is W3schools?” to pull up the Wikipedia entry and then click to the site.
It seems that, as of now, there’s no method for text entry. That means, even if you do manage to get to a website like Netflix or another service that requires a log in of some kind, you won’t be able to. As far as we can tell, there’s no obvious workaround — there’s no copy/paste function and connecting a keyboard to the service port does nothing.
Google Home Hub user agent
9to5Google reader Henry Lim managed to make his way to whatismybrowser.com, which shares the User Agent of the web browser and includes other device details. Apparently, the browser is defined as “Chrome 70 on Android”, specifically version 70.0.3538.47.
— Henry Lim (@henrylim96) January 3, 2019
As we’ve been told previously, the actual operating system that’s running on the Home Hub is a version of the “Cast platform” that powers Chromecast and other Home devices, not Android Things, which powers other Smart Displays.