back to article Hey you know what the smart-home world really needs right now? Yup, Google screaming in

Google has joined the battle to create a single-supplier smart-home with the release of a new product called the Home Hub. The Hub – launched today amid the official unveiling of Google's Pixel 3 and 3XL smartphones – is a semi-moveable dashboard with a screen that will communicate with smart home products from its Nest …

this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

Yes, the objective is to crush all the competitors, lock the users into your system and then screw them for every penny.

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

How disappointingly true where what we, as in the ones not needing to be screwed over - both as users and likely given many commentards, implementors, need is simple, effective, reliable and secure standards.

Simple: Not some bastardised overkill of monstrous technology abuse which can only be implemented using a library with more code and dependencies that is sensible to use in a small device. No sensible device manufacturer is going to use something that requires a small computer just for simple functionality.

Effective: Tied in to simple, as in allows interoperability without complicated and unnecessary vendor and device specific exceptions. This would require effective standards which aren't controlled by single vendors.

Reliable: Also tied in to simple as in the simpler something is the less there is to go wrong with it. Multiple interacting state machines and vasy dependency trees don't make for reliable.

Secure: Appropriate security built in from the start, not tacked on as an afterthought - such security never works. Also ties into the above.

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

Which is why none of them will ever get so much as a foot in the door of my home. It's like 1984 only creepier & you intentionally do it to yourself. Yuck!

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Big Brother

Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

1984 - Indeed.

"As to the details of Google's Home Hub. It is cheaper that its competitors: $149 where the new Amazon Echo Show is $229 and Facebook's Portal is $199/$349 depending on the size of the screen."

As to the details of Google's Home Hub. It is cheaper that its competitors: $149 where the new Amazon Echo Show is $229 and Facebook's Portal is $199/$349 depending on the size of the telescreen.

There, FTFY.

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Headmaster

Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

If youda fixed it, youda said "It is cheaper THAN its competitors..."

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

Hooray! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person left who was avoiding the "smart home" hoopla. Ours is a small flat and when I want to to turn anything on or off I have a portable digital control centre right in the palm of my hands. Actually, it IS the palm of my hands, and it does a splendid job of controlling my digits as I tackle such ferociously complex tasks as turning lights on, putting the kettle on, adjusting the thermostat on the AC. THey can force an IoT hub into my cold, dead hands.

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

I have to commend Google for not including a camera on their fondleclock at least...

My take is if it needs an Internet connection to work then I don't need it. I'm still rocking an X10 installation for lighting, hardwired RS485 net for the 'stats, wired IP for the cams. A HomeSeer rig runs it all and I can pick up any house phone, stab # and tell "Anna" what I need. But that novelty wore off back in 2006.

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

Nope, you're not the only one. My son is of the age bracket currently called Millenial but he's not all that happy for such snoop-tastic crap either. Someone gave him one of those Alexa smart speakers as a birthday gift, but he refuses to even plug it in to either power or the network unless & until he feels like making use of it. Otherwise "I don't want that nosey little fucker uploading every cough, belch, & fart to the mothership". There's still hope for the Human race yet!

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

"I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person left who was avoiding the "smart home" hoopla."

You're not, by a longshot.

Although I have to admit that I have a highly automated home, and have had for about 20 years now. However, there isn't a single piece of equipment or software that reports to or needs to access any servers that I don't own and control, and there never will be.

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Re: this is just the start of a very ugly battle for your home

It's actually a great idea. The problem is I want it to have a backend on a server I control. Probably in the basement next to the NAS. If it's just yet another pile of crap tied into google, notsomuch.

If it could be easily hacked and turned into a local control for local systems, without phoning the mothership? They'd almost start becoming interesting and viable!

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Revolv

Every time I think about buying a Nest thermostat, I just remember what happened to Revolv, and how people with $300 controllers and lifetime subscriptions were shat on.

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Re: Revolv

... and with Google's track record of suddendly "sunsetting" services confidence is not increased.

Plus: These things will enter my home when you prise the soldering iron from my cold dead hands. Bad enough that I have a "smart"phone, though I do not use it as much as most do.

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Re: Revolv

@Joe W

Indeed, fine synchronicity with announcement of G+ sunsetting!

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Re: Revolv

Not only that, but why would you want a thermostat that spies on you?

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Not a chance

The only devices that will get into my home will be those without any cloud functionality, and that support open source software. I do have a FireTV, but it's only switched on when I want to watch programmes.

I also don't want to speak to my devices, buttons work just fine.

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Re: Not a chance

Ditto, voice activation means a device which is constantly listening to you. Even if the system is not designed to store that, though Google has been caught doing so, it is a prime hacking target. Remember those 'smart' but woefully insecure toy bears with a camera and microphone in kids' bedrooms?

Increasingly these tech companies seem to be taking the people on the spaceship in Wall E as an aspiration. Having to get up from my chair or walk a few steps to change the thermostat once in a blue moon is not a problem for me. I'm not in danger of being trapped under a huge dog and neither do I have an infant. How we managed to raise two children in a non centrally heated home back in the day constantly amazes me. How did we survive?

The Google App on my phone has the permission to access the microphone denied. There's a Startpage shortcut which means I NEVER deliberately touch the Google space bar. If I could remove it I would.

I have Startpage as default on my laptop and I'm running Oversight to alert me whenever the microphone or camera are on. A recent OS upgrade invited me to initiate Siri, I looked at what private information Apple wanted me to upload to their servers to enable it and decided 'not thanks'. I have been formulating search queries for decades, i can do without a misunderstanding voice assistant with an agenda to get in the way. I am pretty fluent in Boolean, is Siri?

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Re: Not a chance

"I also don't want to speak to my devices, buttons work just fine"

SO MUCH THIS.

Even worse is all the voice control that people are doing with their phones, in public. It's not quite as irritating as people who insist on using using speakerphone functionality in public, but it's close.

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PTW

Re: Not a chance & buttons

Google don't think so, they've enforced an A to Z on screen keyboard on the latest Android TV update, I'm sure in an effort to get people to use the voice search.

Sideloaded the ASOP keyboard and it wouldn't even display. Google can kiss my hairy arse!

Now a happy Pi 3b+ LibreElec/Kodi user, complete with Netflix.

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Store to landfill

How many times since the '70s have companies tried to introduce some kind of ' one unit to rule them all'?

Only now it not only plays multi media but tries to sell you stuff while stealing your personal details and selling those to others.

I suppose eventually reality will catch up with sci-fi and everyone will be a part of the IoT from birth when they are fitted with their personal (surveillance) chip, fortunately I doubt I will live to see it.

Until then these things will not really take off, particularly at the moment as more and more people are becoming aware of what companies are doing with their data.

It seems to me to mostly be the middle aged who embrace this crap and have no clue about what is going on.

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Re: Store to landfill

Got to disagree with you there, middle-aged curmudgeon is El Reg's target demographic, isn't it?

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BT Home Hub

Has BT commented on the name "Home Hub" yet? They still provide HH4 for new ADSL connections.

From what I have heard about thier latest incarnation "Smart Hub" I think smart refers to a sharp pain rather than something clever.

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Anonymous Coward

Google Made An O2 Joggler

But with its own Chocolate Factory spyware.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks Like An....

O2 Joggler.

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The main issue I have with all the shiny "Smart" home stuff being released is the need for them to have a permanent connection to the home servers to do anything.

This means if they shut down the servers you are going to have to replace the whole lot.

I have a few Z-Wave bits (purchased to make life easier for a disabled parent), they talk to a local "hub", if the company who made the hub shutdown their servers I will lose the ability to use their app to control things when away from home, but will still be able to control them from inside my network, via or VPN or even port forwarding to the hub.

If others want my money they will have to do the same.

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Aren't these things just tablets?

Aren't these things just tablets with preconfigured software?

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Re: Aren't these things just tablets?

Yep. 7" tablet with a built in stand. Does it immediately die if unplugged? If so the profit margin is even greater as they didn't include the battery pack.

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It is not just google

I am an automation installer at a company in London called AVITHA, I have been closely monitoring how big companies are pushing forward leaving home automation giants like Control4 and Crestron behind.

Apple, Amazon, Google all these big companies have invested heavily in the automation industry and in the future they will battle each other for the market share, it is hard to tell who will win the majority. We cannot just blindly bet on Google as you know they have officially lost the social media battle last week. Mature companies like Crestron and control4 lacks only one thing and that is lack of an ecosystem. I personally think Apple has the better chance. Automation installers like myself will soon have to adapt to this changing environment.

My biggest worry is that, Google will open the door for cheap IoT devices in its automation system. This will create a huge problem for global IoT security.

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