Back in November of last year, I posed the idea of merging Google Wifi with the Google Assistant. I doubt the company took my input into consideration, but it appears that this is exactly what is happening. According to 9to5 Google’s sources, we’ll see the next generation of Google Wifi products that will include Google’s digital assistant next month.
I can’t say I’m completely surprised though: This past April, when digging through Google’s Chromium code repository, I noticed a product in development dubbed “Mistral” that would integrate Google Home capabilities into a new Google Wifi product line. At the time, I speculated that the new mesh Wi-Fi product might even add a third feature: A Zigbee radio to enable the device as a three-radio hub, similar to the Amazon Echo Plus.
Alas, I have yet to see any Chromium code references with Mistral that also mentions Zigbee. So don’t expect a multi-radio smart home hub from Google at its October 15 hardware event in New York City. Even so, I’m thrilled to see this feature consolidation. As we add more devices with built-in microphones and speakers for Google Assistant functionality, it just makes sense that these products have multiple functions. I have enough speakers, routers and network access points in my home, thank you.
9to5 Google’s sources say that the updated product – called Nest Wifi thanks to Google’s recent branding changes for smart home products – will have Eero-like beacons, or access points, that include a microphone and speaker:
Our sources say that Google is adopting an Eero-like package with the Nest Wifi. The multi-pack of the first Google Wifi included multiple full-fledged routers that connected to one another wirelessly, while the second-gen Nest Wifi will instead offer one primary router alongside other, smaller beacons. We’re told these smaller beacons will double as Assistant speakers, while the main router will not.
Also inside will be a Bluetooth 5.0 radio. Why not include Google’s digital assistant in the main router?
My educated guess is for compatibility reasons. I’d think the new Nest Wifi beacons will be compatible with the existing Google Wifi product, which will act as a main, or centralized, router. If I’m correct, that would mean current Google Wifi owners can simply add new Nest Wifi beacons to both extend their network coverage while also adding Google Assistant capabilities to new locations in the home.
Will the Nest Wifi products support the new Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, protocol? It’s possible but maybe not initially because of the chipset referenced in those Mistral code commits.
According to what I’ve seen between April and now, Google will use Qualcomm’s QCS404 and 405 SOCs, which natively support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but are also “Wi-Fi 6 ready” for the 802.11ax protocol. So perhaps Nest WiFi launches with today’s Wi-Fi standard and later gains Wi-Fi 6 compatibility since the current Google Wifi routers don’t support Wi-Fi 6. In that case, you’d either swap out an old Google Wifi main router with a new model or Google flips the Wi-Fi 6 switch on the new models for those that bought a main router with mesh access point modules. Note that these chip also support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive home audio so these, or future Nest WiFi products could add more immersive audio quality as well for streaming music.
We’ll know for sure what the capabilities, features, and price are for Nest Wifi in a few short weeks, but I’m excited to see such potential integration.
And I doubt this is the last such consolidation: I anticipate that future Nest Hub smart display products, which already act as Google Assistant devices, become mesh Wi-Fi access points as well. The fewer devices we need in the house the better, provided we can still be in any room and control the smart home, connect to the internet or stream media, the better.