Essential made more than a new Android phone. It also made Home.
Essential is a new startup headed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. The company has been teasing for a while that it had some major announcements in store for 30 May, and while many assumed the news stopped after it unveiled the new Essential phone and its accessories, Essential surprised us all with yet another product up its sleeve: a rival to assistant products from Amazon and Google.
Home is an intelligent assistant. The device itself has a circular design with a round display. It physically reminds us of Google's Nest thermostats. The "auto-display" is activated by voice commands, a tap of a finger, or when you look at it. Home lets you play your music, ask questions, set timers, and control devices like lights, but Essential promised Home will be more intelligent than existing competitors.
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It can detect when you're talking to people and automatically turns down the volume, for instance. Right now, it's unclear how Home works or compares directly to other assistant-powered devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. Wired said Home isn't done yet, will ship later this summer, and aims to bring "order to the endless standards, protocols, and systems wrought by the Internet of Things."
Its system, it seems, will work with SmartThings, HomeKit, Nest, and even Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. However, we don't know if all that technology will be available automatically at launch. Details on the Home, including its price, are vague at the moment.
We'll keep you posted.