On October 15th, at Google’s annual Made By Google hardware event, the latest Google hardware to hit the market were unveiled to participating media. One of these offerings included the long-anticipated successor to the Google Home Mini, the new Google Nest Mini.
Earlier this year, at Google’s I/O event, they announced that Google Home products would be rebadged as Google Nest, hence the name change. Aside from the name change, however, the product sticks to the same exterior design while adding a few new features and one new color option.
Like its 2017 predecessor, the Nest Mini will be priced at just $49, making it one of the most affordable smart speakers on the market. It was released just yesterday, so smart speaker aficionados can start getting their new Mini’s right away from the Google Store.
What’s New With the Mini
The biggest change to the Nest Mini is in its audio capabilities. Though we haven’t played with the Nest Mini as of this write-up, it comes with a completely redesigned speaker that’s reported to make the device a little heavier than before.
More importantly than the weight though is the audio quality, which Google claims is noticeably better on this device. The new speaker reportedly offers 40% stronger bass, providing a sound that is “authentic to the artist’s intent”.
The Google Nest Mini is also capable of pairing with another Nest Mini for true stereo sound, bringing it up to speed with Amazon’s latest Echo devices. Overall, smart speaker owners will have a better, richer music listening experience.
Though it’s not a feature I think many were expecting to see, the new Nest Mini is now wall mountable. On the bottom of the device (where you can find the mute switch) is a new hole to hang the device onto either a nail or wall hook.
This is an interesting design choice and one that’s only possible for Google’s smallest smart speaker offering. It seems like a great way to clear up your smart speaker clutter as well as change the way we view these devices. Hopefully, more devices take on a mountable design so we can start moving away from the Smart Speaker Paperweight era.
The only drawback of the Mini’s mounting feature is that it still needs to be plugged in at all times. With such a short and visible cord, your mounting options will be somewhat limited.
Aside from the improved speaker, the most exciting change to the Nest Mini is surely its ultrasound sensing features. It won’t show you pictures of your newborn (yet) but it will be able to tell you when you are getting close to it, which has some clever implications.
At launch, the ultrasound features of the Nest Mini will be used to detect when you are close to the device, at which point the device will light up and show you where the volume controls on the device are. It does this by sending out a chirp using a frequency you can’t hear and then measuring the echo of that chirp.
Though this feature is currently being used in a relatively passive way, advancements to this could allow Google’s Mini speaker to detect when you arrive home, map out your acoustics for better audio, and more.
A New Color
The Google Home Mini has always been available in four colors: chalk (the standard grey), charcoal (black), coral (a pink-orange), and aqua (teal). The Nest Mini has a new color option available known as “sky”.
As you can probably guess, the sky color is a light, grayish blue color that is (in my opinion) a much nicer, subtler color. Aside from this color change, the other three colors have remained the same.
Another significant and commendable change to the Google Nest Mini is that a large percentage of the device is made from recycled materials. 35% of the external part of the Nest Mini is made of recycled materials, and the grille over the speaker is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
This is an excellent move by the company and we would love to see a device in the future with 100% of the plastic components being recycled materials. If you have an old Google Home device that you want to recycle, you can do so from home for free.
The Nest Mini: What Hasn’t Changed?
Despite all of these changes, the Google Nest Mini remains largely unchanged on the outside.
Aside from the improved audio, most users may not notice much of a difference between the Nest Mini and the Home Mini at first glance. Stay tuned as we explore the Nest Mini in more detail in subsequent write-ups after we get more hands-on time with the device.