Though the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones may be the stars of the Made by Google media event in New York City, a new and impressive smart speaker garnered quite a bit of chatter, too.
Nest Mini ($49), which is about the size of a doughnut, has some improved hardware and software to go up against its primary competitor, Amazon Echo Dot.
This diminutive smart speaker offers twice the bass as the original Google Home Mini, the company says. Indeed, the audio sounded fuller and louder than its predecessor when we cranked it up in a post-event demo session.
Nest Mini was mounted to the wall, which is a new option, along with a new color, Sky blue, to add to the Chalk, Charcoal and Coral options.
If you listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks or other types of audio on Nest Mini, white LED lights will light up as your hand gets closer to the device, to show where to tap to adjust the volume (on each side) or pause (the center).
Google says it improved the smart speaker’s ability to hear you in noisy environments and dynamically adjust the volume based on any background noise detected. So you may hear your assistant say the score of a baseball game louder than usual if it detects kids playing nearby, for example.
Whole home audio
Though you can use Nest Mini as a standalone speaker, you can wirelessly connect it to any other Nest speakers in the home to work in concert with one another (pardon the pun).
As long as the devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can create a group with a Google or Nest smart speaker or display, to have them all play the same audio, or you use the “stream transfer” feature, which lets you move audio from one speaker to another (starting a podcast in the kitchen, then continuing it in the bedroom).
Speaking of audio, all Google Home and Nest speakers let you call devices from the Google Duo app (on, say, a smartphone). Or use the intercom speaker to talk from device to device, for free, to anywhere in the world (as Amazon lets you do with Alexa-powered devices).