New sub-$50 smart speaker could launch at Google's annual hardware event in the fall
Two years on from the launch of the Home Mini, Google is reportedly about to reveal a new version of its cheapest smart speaker.
According to 9to5Google, the new speaker will take on the company's Nest branding and be called the Nest Mini. It is said to look similar to the current Google Home Mini, but could be slightly larger.
More interestingly, the report claims the Nest Mini will offer improved sound quality over the original, with louder volume and better bass. It is also claimed the Nest Mini will be wall-mountable, although it isn't clear for now if this means anything more elaborate than a slot to hang it from a picture hook.
Wall-mounting speakers is becoming a trend in 2019, with this news coming right after Ikea and Sonos launched a smart speaker designed to double as a shelf or wall-mounted bedside table.
Also new will be a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is something offered by the Amazon Echo Dot, but has always been missing from the Home Mini. This could make it easy to hook up the new device to your existing speakers or sound systems.
Essentially, this would make the Nest Mini work just like a Google Chromecast Audio does now, bringing the Google Assistant and smartphone and internet connectivity to any speakers or systems you already have.
The Nest Mini will reportedly offer a range of new color optionsGoogle
Also new for the Nest Mini will be a proximity sensor. Google has fitted these to other smart home devices, like its Nest Hub Max smart display and Nest Guard home alarm system. For the Nest Mini, this is said to have the speaker show the current volume level when you approach it.
As a side note, it is unlikely that this sensor will be as advanced as the radar-posed Soli chip, to be fitted to Google's new Pixel 4 smartphone, also due to launch at the fall hardware event. In that case, the Soli chip is used to see when your hand is near the phone, switching on its face unlock system in the process; Google says Soli can also be used to control the phone by waving your hand in front of the display.
9to5Google believes the Nest Mini will command the same $49 price tag as its predecessor, making it an affordable first step into the Google Home ecosystem for many consumers. Of course, the new speaker will include the Google Assistant and all the features that offers on all of Google and Nest's smart speakers and displays.
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