5 things to expect from a revamped Google Home smart speaker

The original Google Home smart speaker has finally been discontinued. What’s next?

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Jon Phillips / IDG

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After a four-year run, the original Google Home has finally shuffled out of Google’s smart speaker lineup, and now comes word that a successor is likely on the way. What are we likely to see in a revamped Google Home, or whatever Google ends up calling it? We already have some ideas.

The Google Home smart speaker, which made its debut back in 2016, has been listed as “not available” on the Google store for weeks, and a Google rep recently confirmed to TechHive that the original Google smart speaker has indeed been discontinued. If you still want to snag a Google Home, you can grab one on Best Buy for $30, a steep discount considering its original $129 price tag.

Meanwhile, a source tells 9to5Google that a successor to the Google Home is in the works, although beyond its code name—”Prince”—details about the revamped speaker are scarce.

Still, between what 9to5Google’s source has revealed and what we’ve been seeing in the latest smart speakers, we can make some educated guesses about what the Google Home 2 will look like and what’s inside.

Goodbye “Home,” hello “Nest”

First of all, you can be certain that the new Google Home will ditch the “Home” branding. Starting with the Google Nest Hub Max last May, Google has been giving the “Nest” name to all its latest smart speakers and displays (the Google Home Hub from 2018 was renamed as the Google Nest Hub), and it’s a sure bet that a successor to the Google Home will follow the same pattern.

So...what exactly will the new Google Home be called, then? The Google Nest? Eh, doubt it, and while the Google Nest Prince sounds cool, the whole “Prince” thing is yet another Silicon Valley code name, so that seems unlikely as well. Google Nest One? That sounds too similar to the Sonos One, a premium Google Assistant-enabled speaker from a company that’s currently suing Google (and which Google sued right back). Speaking of the Sonos One, though....

Better sound

9to5Google’s tipster claims that the new speaker will be “display-less” and “in a similar vein to the Sonos One.” Well, if the new Google Home is indeed going to be in a “similar vein” to a Sonos One, it sure better sound good.

To be fair, the original Google Home was no slouch when it came to sound, and in our 2016 review, we said the speaker’s 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch radiators could “fill a single room with perfectly respectable sound.”

That’s not bad (and it’s certainly better than the tinny sound of a Google Home Mini, which got a slight upgrade in last year’s Google Nest Mini), but “respectable” won’t cut it if Google seriously hopes to compete with Sonos. Of course, Google makes at least one smart speaker with top-notch sound—the Google Home Max—but that’s a $300 speaker (currently discounted to $250), compared to a (still somewhat steep) $200 Sonos One.

One way to put the new Google Home on the radars of audiophiles would be to add one of the hottest features we’ve seen in the latest smart speakers: support for 3D audio formats, namely Dolby Atmos Music. The $170 Amazon Echo Studio speaker, for example, boasts Dolby Atmos sound, so a new Atmos-enabled Google speaker seems at least like an outside possibility (although to be clear, that’s just speculation on our part).

New design

With its replaceable fabric base and sloping top, the Google Home invited frequent comparisons to a bathroom air freshener (our reviewer likened it to a carryout coffee cup), and it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to Google’s other smart speakers.

The new Google Home (or whatever takes its place) will feature an “unassuming and familiar” design that will “fit in nicely” with Google’s latest smart devices, according to 9to5Google’s source. So it’s a safe bet that Google will jettison the air freshener look for something more rounded and subtle, and mostly covered in fabric. And if the new Google Home does in fact come with improved sound, expect bigger drivers too, which means a larger overall size.

Steeper price tag

Google Home fetched $130 when it was first announced back in 2016, although its sticker price soon fell to $99 and it was frequently available for far less than that. If the Google Home’s successor does end up arriving with a bigger design and better sound, we’d expect it to retail for at least the original $130 price of the Google Home, and probably closer to the (currently discounted) $170 price tag of the Amazon Echo Studio or even the $200 Sonos One. Given that you can currently scoop up a Google Home Max speaker for $250, it seems unlikely that the new Home’s sticker price would crack $200, but again, we’re just guessing here.

A fall release date

The ongoing pandemic makes it hard to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, much less what’s in the cards for the coming months. That said, Google has generally announced its latest smart devices in the fall, with the latest Google smart speaker, the Nest Mini, making its debut in October 2019. We’ll just go ahead and predict that the Google Home’s successor will be unveiled sometime around Halloween.

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