The Google Home Hub is only one of a number of Smart Displays hitting the market, but the Home Hub is a little different to the devices from third-party manufacturers with a custom software running the platform.
Diya Jolly, VP of product management at Google has advised Ars Technica that the Home Hub is not running Android Things as other Smart Displays are, instead they’re running a version of ‘Google’s Cast platform’, turning it essentially into a souped up Chromecast.
There’s no particular reason behind the departure from Android Things for Home Hub, with Jolly telling Ars
We just felt we could bring the experience to bear with Cast, and the experiences are the same. We would have easily given the third-parties Cast if they wanted it, but I think most developers are comfortable using Android Things.
Google Australia confirmed the use of a custom platform for Home Hub, however they were fast to assure us that the Home Hub has feature parity with Smart Displays and vice-versa. This is due to Google’s maintaining control of Android Things on Smart Displays, much like they have for other embedded Android systems including Android Wear, Android TV and Android Auto . Google doesn’t allow for customisation of these platforms, which allows for faster updates, such as the updates we saw Google announce for the platform this morning.
The hardware design of the Home Hub is similarly a little different with Google eschewing the Qualcomm processors that the Lenovo, JBL LG and soon Sony are running, instead Google opted to use an Amlogic chip, however we’ve yet to hear more on what exactly is under the hood.
It’s likely we won’t even notice the difference between the Home Hub and other Smart Displays being sold. Lenovo has just brought their 8″ and 10″ Smart Displays to the Australian market, with JBL expected to launch theirs by the end of the month.