Smart Home

Could this new smart speaker de-throne the Amazon Echo?

There are plenty of promises, but can the Essential Home deliver?

The Essential home is a new entry in the smart speaker market. Credit: Essential

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Yesterday saw the debut of Essential, the latest brainchild of the creator of Android—Andy Rubin. While everyone is talking about the Essential Phone, the Essential Home looks like a real contender to knock the Amazon Echo off its smart speaker throne.

On the surface, it doesn't seem like the Essential Home will do much more than what we've seen in other smart speakers like the Echo and Google Home. It can play music, set timers, ask the internet for information (like what a baby kangaroo is called), and control your smart home. But it's not what the Essential Home can do that makes it unique, but rather how.

That starts with your privacy. The processing is all taken care of locally on the device whenever possible (including the AI engine that would help manage your life). The amount of data being sent to the cloud will be limited, which will hopefully keep it safe from any malicious threat.

According to Wired, the Home will be the one smart home hub to rule them all. It'll be able to coordinate and work with SmartThings, HomeKit, Nest, and more, and will even extend into Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Whether or not Essential will be able to deliver on those promises remains to be seen, though. They're certainly lofty goals, but the danger of writing a check they can't cash is very real.

While no pricing details for the Essential Home have been released yet, Wired notes it'll be available "later this summer."