In addition to the Nest Wifi Pro and new Doorbell (wired), the expected Google Home app redesign was officially announced with “customization and personalization a core principle”. It’s a big overhaul, and you can sign up now for the preview program starting today.
This is more than just a fresh coat of paint. Google is rebuilding the Home app in addition to the rethought UI. The company’s foundational realization is that everybody organizes their home in a different manner, and the new Google Home lets people do that in a friendly way.
The Google Home app now consists of five tabs with a tall Material You bottom bar that starts with “Favorites.” You’ll see the home you’re controlling up top with a profit avatar next to it. Below that is a “Spaces” carousel that’s grouped by Cameras, Lighting, Climate, and Wi-Fi. These control pages have been redesigned from the equivalents that exist today:
- Cameras: Feed of livestreams
- Lighting: High-level on/off switch, as well as per-room and per-device switches
- Wifi: Side-by-side cards at the top provide an overview of your network, points, and devices with the ability to drill down. Below, you can Share password, Test network, and see history for this page.
In 2023, Google will let users create “Custom Spaces,” such as a garden or backyard. Another way to use this upcoming feature is to group all devices related to kids and pets in one screen.
For example, you can create a space for your cat that groups together all your compatible pet cams, cat feeder, vacuum and air purifier.
Next up in the main tab you get a “Favorites” section where you can pin devices, actions (e.g., Assistant, Broadcast), and automations (Assistant Routines). This notably includes the ability to have live camera views appear immediately when you open the app. These portrait and landscape streams feature a button to quickly turn on/off in the corner. Expanding shows the new camera controller view that’s basically the Nest app UI. This will support the latest Nest Cams and Doorbells before adding legacy device support “over the next year.” We detailed these long-awaited upgrades here.
The last part of the Favorites tab is “Media control.” Basically a docked Now Playing bar, the section lets you swipe if more than one device is playing music or videos in your house. In the latter case (on compatible screens), you get a button to open the Google TV remote in addition to play/pause, and Cast. Tapping opens a full page of controls with volume controls, full cover art, and a scrubber. Cast lets you quickly play on “All speakers,” create new speaker groups, and make individual volume adjustments.
The “Devices” tab is basically the main screen of the current Home app where everything is organized by rooms, while “Automations” lets you quickly launch, as well as edit, personal and Household Routines. The Google Home app will let you use more devices as triggers/starters (e.g., sensor-triggered routines) even before the coming Matter upgrade.
Additionally, Google is introducing a Script Editor next year to allow for full automation with “more than 100 new features and capabilities.” It will be available on the upcoming Google Home for web experience that allows for keyboard creation and will live alongside the initial ability (“in a few weeks”) to view camera feeds online with a nice grid view.
On home.google.com you’ll be able to easily check in on live views in full screen, zoom in to see more details, view camera status, and more all from your web browser.
Rounding out the Google Home app is (today’s) Activity notifications and Settings (services, sharing, etc). Each household member can customize their own Home app.
Sign-ups for the Google Home Preview Program to try out the app redesign on Android and iOS open [Update: “in the coming weeks” instead of today, which is what Google originally told us. Try this instead]. You’ll be able to join from the existing Google Home app you have installed, and the company will maintain this program going forward to let early adopters try new features first.
In the short term, Google Home for Wear OS 3 is launching this week with a wearable-friendly feed UI that lets you quickly make adjustments (e.g., thermostat, lighting) and receive notifications.
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