There are a few ways this is handy, but one of my favorites is when I look at the display for the first time in the morning and it automatically presents the weather forecast after recognizing me. I can also have the Hub Max display a personalized reminder for someone else the next time it sees their face.
Google calls this feature Face Match and setting it up is an entirely opt-in process that involves taking a few photos of your face in the Google Home app on your phone and sending them to the Hub Max. Google says that all of the facial recognition is done locally on the device and nothing is sent to or stored in the cloud. Opting-out of Face Match deletes your facial data from the device.
The Hub Max also uses the camera to enable limited gesture controls. You can look at the screen and raise your palm to pause and resume anything that is being played, such as music, video, or a podcast. It supports streaming a live view from the camera to your phone, two-way audio so you can have a conversation with someone in front of the Hub Max, and the Nest Aware service that includes continuous video recording and the ability to recognize familiar faces.
Whenever someone is viewing the camera feed, the Hub Max will display a notification on the screen and the green light will blink. No other smart display offers this kind of extended functionality with the camera and it sets the Hub Max apart. The Max includes some clever features to make video calling easier. It made it much easier for my kids to stay in frame than with other devices that have a more limited field of view.
This feature works with Face Match so the Hub Max will only display messages to who they are addressed to. Aside from the new camera features, the Hub Max does all of the other things the standard Nest Hub does. You can watch live YouTube TV or YouTube videos directly on the display or cast content from other apps but still not Netflix, unfortunately on your phone to it, just like a Chromecast plugged into your TV.
You can ask the Google Assistant for the weather, or recent sports scores, or whatever other random fact you can think of. You can control other smart home devices by swiping down from the top and tapping on the various options or through voice controls. You can have the Hub Max display a slideshow of photos in a Google Photos album or from a curated selection of images and artwork.
Or you have it display a giant clock all the time. The Max still displays all of these things in cards that you have to tediously swipe through to see, even though its larger screen is more conducive to providing all of that info at one time and without requiring any interaction from me to see it. The Nest Hub Max does do most of its advertised functions well, however, and it is a very competent smart display with some features that stand out from the crowd. But for most people, the Nest Hub is the better smart display to purchase.
That light sensor was one of our favorite features in the first Nest Hub, because it can automatically dim the display to keep the screen from blinding you when the room is dark, and it keeps your photos looking their best when you're using the thing as a digital picture frame. All of that works well with the Nest Hub Max, too. As for the camera, at 6. One other note for those interested in using the Nest Hub Max as a security gadget -- the camera doesn't support night vision. You can view the Nest Hub Max's camera feed on your phone from Google's Home and Nest apps, the latter of which also lets you set custom motion activation zones.
It doesn't feature night vision, but it supports two-way talk and can alert you if it sees movement. Like the original, the Nest Hub Max features a kill switch behind the screen that disables the microphone. Now, that same switch disables the camera, too. If you want to disable the camera while leaving the microphone on, you'll need to swipe up on the touchscreen and tap a hotkey in the settings bar. I just wish Google had ceded us a shutter for that camera. Leaving it out makes it a more jarring jump from a device that didn't include a camera at all to one where a face-tracking camera is the central feature -- particularly one that can't simply be covered up when it's not in use.
A shutter would have offered some additional peace of mind for anyone planning to use a device like this somewhere like a bedroom. Leaving the shutter out also raises a big question: Why? What's the difference between a physical shutter and a digital kill switch, aside from the fact that consumers seem to be more comfortable with the former?
Functional equivalence is one thing, but perception is everything. I'll bet there are folks who like the Nest Hub and would love a larger version, but who will ultimately pass on the Nest Hub Max because it lacks a shutter. You'll see a solid green light beside the camera whenever the Nest Hub Max is uploading images or video to Google's servers.
Face Match, the marquee feature that uses facial recognition technology to remember what you look like and offer you personalized info, raises a bunch of questions about privacy, too. Google says that the camera is always processing the pixels it sees to look for familiar faces and for raised hand gestures, which can pause or resume playback. But all of that happens locally on the device itself. The Nest Hub Max isn't constantly uploading what the camera sees to Google's servers.
The device does upload video through the cloud when someone is streaming the camera feed to their phone or making a video call. Whenever that happens and video is being uploaded, you'll see a green indicator light next to the camera. If you enable that Nest Cam functionality, anyone with access to your Google or Nest account can view your Nest Hub Max's live camera feed and any motion-activated clips you've saved on their phone via the Google Home app or the Nest app. Both Nest and Google offer two-factor authentication, which helps protect you if someone steals or guesses your password.
Turning it on is a very good idea. As for your face data, Google keeps it stored on the device but tells CNET that if multiple people are using a device, it may upload the face models to the cloud in order to ensure that each is distinct enough from the other to avoid false positives. Google says it may also use your face data to test future features and recognition algorithms before pushing them to your device. Read more: Google's got a new face-tracking camera for your home.
We've got questions. With the same Google Assistant capabilities and a scaled-up version of the same, likable operating system used by the Nest Hub, the Nest Hub Max is pleasant and simple to use. No surprise there -- we were big fans of that operating system last time around, with most of us on the smart home team giving it an edge over Amazon's operating system for its Echo Show smart displays.
Now, with the personalized Face Match notifications, gesture controls, video calling capabilities and Nest Cam functionality, the Nest Hub Max has even more features than before -- and more than other Google Assistant smart displays that cost more. Google still has a better smart display operating system than Amazon. Those features all worked well when I tried them out. Face Match was quick to set up, and the wide-angle lens did a good job of recognizing me whenever I approached the device, or even if I was standing off to the side of it.
When it's activated, you'll see your own user icon in the top right corner of the home screen that lets you know that the device recognizes you. If you tap the screen to see your list of recommended actions, it'll read "Just for you," and show personalized cards for video messages, calendar appointments and more. Face Match never mistakenly thought that someone else using the device was, in fact, me, but the personalizations didn't disappear quite fast enough after I'd walk away.
On more than one occasion, our photographer, Derek, was able to walk up to the device after I'd stepped away and see my personalized calendar data. Consider thinking twice before entrusting it with anything truly sensitive that you wouldn't want your family or roommates to see.
As for the gesture controls that let you raise a hand to pause playback, they worked reliably well at close range, but the success rate plummeted once I moved more than 5 or 6 feet away from the device. Still, as a means of shushing the Nest Hub Max during loud music playback or when people are talking and you don't want to interrupt them, it seems, well, handy.
Also useful: the Auto-Tracking feature that lets the camera follow you around during video calls. Google puts the Nest Hub Max's degree lens to work quite well here, with a wide field of view that gives you plenty of room to wander without leaving the frame. It sometimes takes a second after moving before the camera will follow, but it was fast enough for me, and I was never able to confuse it without outright cheating.
One other note -- you can't use augmented reality to add silly hats or other filters to yourself during a call like you can with the Facebook Portal. Given Google's focus on AR technology , I was surprised not to have that option. Google's engine for creating voice-activated routines is powerful and straightforward, and it includes obvious presets like this "good morning" routine that you can customize as much as you like.
It's still a helpful cooking companion and a terrible joke teller. It's still quick to offer up a sports score or a weather forecast upon request. With the bigger screen, it's the better option for streaming video, too.
When we first heard rumors of the Nest Hub Max, I was super excited by its potential and having used one briefly, I want one. It's the perfect device for my needs. Living on a high floor in a building with a doorman and generally rather good security means I don't need a dedicated security camera, unlike my last place which was on the ground level of a sketchy part of San Francisco.
The reason I want a Nest Hub Max? It's a great all-in-one device. I often use my Lenovo Smart Display to watch videos while cooking or to watch YouTube TV while in the kitchen and the Nest Hub Max does both of those better thanks to the new YouTube TV guide — which will eventually come to any Google Assistant smart display — the new gestures and of course, the better audio.
The stereo speakers are not on par with the Google Home Max, but they are more powerful than the speakers on the Lenovo Smart Display or any of Google's other smart speakers and displays. For me, the Nest Hub Max is the perfect all-in-one device for my needs, but whether it works for you depends. If you're new to Google Assistant, or just getting started with your smart home, the Nest Hub Max is the perfect entryway to Google's smart home ecosystem.
It provides ample coverage to protect your home, can be personalized for multiple people and allows you to make Duo video calls, or leave video messages for your loved ones. It's also a great way to control all of your smart home devices, and acts as a TV for places like the kitchen where you may not want, or need, a large screen.
This is crucial — if you were hoping to replace your Nest camera with the Nest Hub Max, and have it act as a dedicated security solution we don't recommend buying the Nest Hub Max. It'll definitely do a good enough job but if you have the need for a dedicated security solution, we would also get a Nest camera for the various things it can do that the Nest Hub Max can't.
This is where most people will need to make a conscious decision based on their needs. If you have the Nest Hub formerly known as the Google Home Hub and have been wanting a larger display for a communal area, the Nest Hub Max is a perfect replacement. Similarly, if you have another smart display and also need an additional security camera or better audio, the Nest Hub Max is a great product. Sign me up!
Nirave Gondhia has been writing about the mobile industry for over a decade and began his career selling and fixing phones in the UK. He's used every flagship smartphone over the past five years and carries at least two phones at all times - currently, he's using the iPhone 11 Pro , [ Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola RAZR. Say hi to him on Twitter at nirave. Android Central Android Central.
Image 1 of 2. Image 2 of 2. Nirave Gondhia. Topics Nest Hub Max. See all comments 6. Does the Nest security camera feature require an added monthly fee from Nest Aware? Since it's already been stated that it cannot replace a dedicated camera, I would hope there is no monthly fee connected to it for it to work and store clips in the cloud.
From what I understand the security camera feature will work just a regular Nest cam would. If you don't have Nest Aware, you can still look at live feeds but you would need Nest Aware if you want continuous footage backed up in the cloud along with intelligent alerts. DJLee is correct! It'll work absolutely fine without Nest Aware but to store clips, or view anything that isn't live, you'll need a Nest Aware sub!
So, even if the entire device were hacked, there is no way to re-enable the camera through software. That's a very good point. I believe I do mention it disables them which amounts to the same thing, but I'll add some clarity! I'm also not very happy about the mic and camera being intrinsically linked together like this, so even if you want to turn off the camera, you won't because you'll lose the entire Assistant part of it.
There is always the black tape technique, will hide the camera and still give you the use of the microphone. Android Central Newsletter. Get the best of Android Central in in your inbox, every day! Contact me with news and offers from other Future brands. Receive email from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors. Thank you for signing up to Android Central. With Face Match, just walk up to Hub Max and your Assistant will let you know about any video messages or missed calls you've received.
Create reminders for other members of your household, like reminding your partner to walk the dog. Face Match will also surface any missed reminders automatically when they approach Hub Max. Use Talk and Listen through the Nest Cam to say a quick hello. Get continuous video recording, familiar face alerts and more with a Nest Aware subscription. Get the latest news from Google in your inbox. Please check your network connection and try again. Sign up to receive news and other stories from Google.
Just open the Chromecast-enabled app on your phone and tap the Cast button. Enjoy millions of YouTube videos, from original content to cooking clips to how-to videos. Stay connected Keep the memories alive Search for photos of your dog, birthdays, weddings and more. Create a Live Album so your best and latest shots show up on your Hub Max automatically.
Just choose the people or pets you want to see. Share a Live Album with friends and family, so they can see your latest photos on their smart display, too. See a photo pop up that brings a smile to your face? Let Nest Hub Max better blend into your home with Ambient EQ so the screen automatically adjusts to match the lighting in the room.
Get help in the kitchen Discover recipes and see visual step-by-step directions—all hands-free—making Nest Hub Max your digital sous chef to help unleash your culinary creativity. Set multiple timers—for example, one for baking and one for your yoga workout. Get access to millions of recipes from top names like Food Network and Tasty. Run out of buttermilk? Ask your Google Assistant to add it to your shopping list. Or use Quick Gestures to stop the timer with just a raise of your hand.
Have fun with family Have a laugh with your Assistant! Want to play a song but not sure of the title? Just ask Google to identify the song by saying a few lyrics instead. Playing a game and trying to decide who gets to go first? Planning ahead for Halloween? Get things done Start your day with personalized info meant just for you using Face Match.
Unsure about bringing the umbrella? Set aside quiet time before bed with Downtime, and the Hub Max will hold off on sharing notifications or responding to commands. Use Routines to streamline multiple tasks. Set up your personalized commute times and routes in the Assistant app. Getting ready for bed and want to dim the lights? Never lose your phone again. Say "Hey Google, find my phone" and your Assistant will call your phone.
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