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Google's 2022 smart home launches—here's what to know

For users, it matters

The new Nest Wi-Fi Pro Router and Video Doorbell on a green background Credit: Reviewed / Google Nest

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Google smart home devices are getting a major upgrade, including a new Nest video doorbell and Wi-Fi router, continued support for Matter, and several major upgrades to the Google Home app.

Here’s a look at what’s new with Google smart home devices.

All about the Nest Doorbell (wired, second-generation)

The new Nest video doorbell in four colors.
Credit: Google Nest

The new Nest video doorbell comes in four colors.

Google announced a new Nest video doorbell—the second-gen Nest Doorbell (Wired). This is the follow up to the second-gen Nest Doorbell (Battery), which was released in 2021 and is our No. 1 pick for the best video doorbell. The latest model, the second-gen Nest Doorbell (Wired), does not have a built-in battery and requires existing doorbell wiring for use.

Some of the other main differences between the two doorbells is that the wired version is about 43% smaller than the original. It also offers 24/7 recording support with a paid Nest Aware subscription—a feature that is not offered on the battery version.

The resolution is slightly lower at 960 x 1,280 pixel resolution, but there are HDR improvements to the camera that should make bright and dark spots appear in more detail, offering one of the clearest views of any Google video doorbell yet.

Like the battery version, the wired version can track people, packages, vehicles, animals, and general motion events for up to three hours without a paid subscription. And, you still have the ability to pair with a Nest speaker to alert you when the doorbell has been rung. (Plus, the newly announced Chromecast with Google TV (HD) has the ability to pull up your Nest Doorbell on the TV it’s connected to.)

The new Nest Doorbell (wired, second-gen) is out now and available in four colors: Snow, Linen, Ash, and Ivy. $180 at Amazon

What’s the Matter?

Google plans to make Nest smart speakers, smart displays, and routers, like the new Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro router, compatible with Matter, a smart home protocol aimed at unifying the divide between smart devices and ecosystems. The router also has a built-in Thread and Matter hub to securely and reliably keep your smart devices connected.

Other innovations relating to the protocol include a Fast Pair with Matter feature for Android phones that’s meant to simplify setting up a new device, and a commitment to updating the company’s existing smart speakers, smart displays and routers to be able to control and work with Matter devices.

Support for Matter is important, as it will allow smart home owners to mix and match between various smart ecosystems and devices, including Google smart home devices. In other words, the Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Home products that were once exclusive to their own brand will be able to interact with each other.

$200 at Amazon

A new Google Home app

The Google Home app has been effectively reimagined, with Google believing it can serve as a one-stop-shop for setting up, controlling, and automating more than 80,000 devices that work with Google Home.

Google introduced a number of new customization features to help you quickly access the devices you use most often. The Favorites tab, for instance, is the first thing you see when you open the app, bringing all of your most used devices to the forefront.

A feature like Spaces, meanwhile, provides timely access to different categories of devices, such as your lights, cameras, thermostats, or other connected devices.

Google suggested that by next year, you’ll be able to create a Space for, say, your cat, with a group that includes pet cameras, smart cat feeders, robot vacuums, and more.

Perhaps most significantly, at least to some, Google has redesigned the camera experience inside the app. It will allow you to scroll through hours of Nest battery and wired camera video history in a matter of seconds, letting you get to the 10 seconds that you were searching for far better than ever before.

The app will also label and organize events, allowing users to access events triggered by people, packages, vehicles, animals and more. Google says it’s a nod to the success of the Nest app that preceded the Google Home app, wrapping in some of the qualities that made it appreciated by many.

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