Essential Home is Andy Rubin's answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home
Andy Rubin—also known as the father of Android—has just made his long-awaited, Essential phone official, but alongside the bezel-less smartphone, Rubin’s Essential venture is also launching a second device – a smart home speaker that’s going head-to-head with the Amazon Echo and Google Home, only this one is focused on privacy.
Called the Essential Home (what a surprise), the new device looks undoubtedly sleek, like a hybrid between the Nest and a Google Home base with a round display. It looks relatively low-profile, at least when compared to the Google Home and the Echo (not to mention the upcoming Echo Show with its massive touchscreen), but we’re a bit disappointed to report that Rubin and co didn’t showcase the Essential Home in any real-life images. Instead, what we got are sleek renders.
Anyway, let’s move on to what the Essential Home does, which is, well, what the other AI-powered home speakers are doing. You can ask it to jot down a note for you, set reminders, request songs, and all that. It can also notify you when something is “off” around the house, for example, if “a light is left on”, Essential says. Although we wouldn’t call that a good example, per se, it suggests that Essential Home will be able to work within an ecosystem of smart devices, although which ecosystem remains unclear at this point. The company says its new device is going to be a “friendly face for your home that plays well with others,” so we’d imagine it was meant to integrate well with other smart devices around the house.
The Essential Home will run a proprietary operating system called Ambient OS, which looks similar to a blown-up version of Android Wear, at least from what we’ve seen on renders. The company says that Ambient OS was made not with point-to-point interactions with individual devices in mind, but rather to provide a “set of services and abstractions that enable the development and execution of applications that run in the context of your home.“ With Ambient OS, “your home is the computer,” Essential claims. For example, you can set a timer on the device and have the lights in the living room flash when it goes off.
One of the key features of Ambient OS is that it doesn’t rely heavily on the cloud, but rather stores data locally and communicates with other devices directly. This falls in line with Essential’s vision to make its smart home assistant as unobtrusive and as secure as possible.
More information on the Essential Home will be available in the coming days and weeks.