New Video – What Exactly Does “Google Home” Mean?!? (Why So Confusing, Google?)

I was recently filming for another YouTube video, and I realized that I kept saying “Google Home” but I hadn’t discussed how “Google Home” can actually mean four different things.

Hence I wanted to shoot this video and discuss the four things it means, why Google have made this so confusing, and why the situation should be much less confusing in the future (hopefully!):

The video timestamps are:

  • 0:00 – Start
  • 1:24 – Google Home is a brand name
  • 3:10 – Google Home is a product
  • 4:13 – Google Home is a name of other products
  • 5:05 – Google Home is an app
  • 6:57 – Wrapping Up

Video Transcript

Hey YouTube, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. I was recently filming another video where I’ve mentioned the phrase ‘Google Home’ a few times, and I realized midway through the video but I hadn’t actually explained what ‘Google Home’ means and why it can mean four different things in each context. The phrase ‘Google Home’ can be a little bit confusing… as a result, I – sort of – got sidetracked on that other video while I was trying to – sort of – manually explain what ‘Google Home’ meant. I was getting confused, just like crying, it was just terrible, it was a whole thing. I’m joking… I didn’t cry… much. Uhm, the point is the phrase ‘Google Home’ can be a little bit confusing because it means multiple things in different contexts and that’s a little bit confusing so I want to do this video and just talk through why the phrase ‘Google Home’ means four different things, and how hopefully in the future it’ll only mean one or two different things, and therefore be a little bit less confusing.

Okay so part of the confusion of the phrase ‘Google Home’ is that it refers to a brand name – a lineup of products – it refers to a particular product, it refers to the start of the name of two other products, and of course it refers to the app – the Google Home app, that you can download on the app stores. And as a result it gets a bit confusing. Now before I go any further, what I will say is that you if you have a Google Nest Mini or Google Nest Max, or whatever Google Nest device you have, if you read that another product or a skill works on ‘Google Home’, you’re in luck – it will work on this particular product. And that’s because ‘Google Home’ is a brand name. As I just mentioned, my first point is it’s a brand name for a particular lineup of products. The lineup of products includes the Google Home, the Google Home Mini, the Google Home Hub, the Google Home Max, the Google Nest Mini, the Google Nest Hub and the Google Nest Hub Max. Okay so when something says it supports ‘Google Home’, if you’ve got any of those devices it will work, including if that device is just called Google Nest or Google Nest Hub, for example. It will work. Now the brand name Google Home officially has been superseded by the name ‘Google Nest’, and that’s a good thing because it’ll prevent confusion. It’ll be a bit more like Amazon which has an Echo as the brand name, and then Alexa is the name of the app. And that’s great, other than the fact that if you actually go through Google’s website you’ll see that the brand name Google Nest isn’t used all that often. In fact, Google Home is still used more. For example if you’re on the Google store, you see a nice little button on the menu say Nest and you click on that and then Google Home is listed three times, which is confusing. Equally if you actually click into the individual products, whilst the Google Home is no longer sold – which I’ll talk about in a second – the Google Home mini and the Google Home max is still being sold, so obviously the Google Home brand is alive and kicking on Google’s own store. Equally if you go to the Google Home skill page or the Google Nest skill page and look up a particular skill, you might want, it says clear as day, “is available and is supported on Google Home”. So even though the official brand name is Google Nest, it still says Google Home, it actually has a little icon showing Google Home which is pretty confusing. So to finish my first point, the brand name has officially moved over from Google Home to Google Nest, but in reality it hasn’t really done that. It’s a confusing mess of both!

Okay, the second thing that the phrase Google Home can refer to is a product. It was Google’s flagship smart home product, it was released in November 2016 and it’s a smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo. It’s a perfectly good device, it was however discontinued earlier this year – earlier in 2020 – to make way for the Nest Hub and the Nest Hub Max. Uhm, but it’s a perfectly good product and if you already own it – or you’ve bought it second hand – it will continue to work, which in itself is confusing because it’s discontinued but yet it still works, and that’s sort of keeping this Google Home confusion alive, in my opinion. It’s even more confusing because Google purchased Nest in 2014 – two and a half years, or more than two and a half years, before they actually released their Google Home product – so Google back then had a chance to actually avoid confusion about the Google name, the Google Home phrasing, and Google Home naming. But they didn’t take it. Instead they named the flagship product Google Home, instead of Google Nest, and as a result is this confusion surrounding the brand name, because it’s also a product.

The third thing the Google Home can mean is the name of other products. So as I mentioned earlier, you’ve got the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max, and these are still being sold. As a result of that, they’re keeping the Google Home brand and the Google Home product range alive. Uhm to be honest, my hunch is that in the future the Google Home Mini will be discontinued, because you’ve got the Google Nest Mini which is newer and a better overall product. Equally – same as the Google Home Max – there’s some, you know the Google Nest Hub Max, you know is better, and as a result I can imagine that the Google Home Max will actually be deprecated or removed in the future, and at that point the Google Home phrase will become a lot less confusing because it no longer refers to a product or product line up, or the start of the name of other products! So hopefully that’ll help improve things and hopefully help reduce confusion.

Finally the fourth thing that Google Home refers to is of course the name of the app. If you want to control your Google based smart home, you’ll download the Google Home app and in there you can manage your smart speakers, your Nest thermostat and a load of other devices. Now this makes sense – it makes sense for Google to name this smart home app Google Home, but what doesn’t make as much sense is that the brand name is officially moved to Google Nest, and of course there’s a Nest app, so you think logically Google might actually want to move things features away from the Google Home app towards the Nest app, maybe rename it Google Nest, and then the Google Nest app will become the primary thing – which reinforces the brand name of Google Nest. But that’s not what Google have done. In fact they’ve done the exact opposite – they’ve taken features from the Nest app and they supported them bit by bit in the Google Home app. in fact around a week ago the Nest protect product was finally added as a feature on the Google Home app, which is great but it does nonetheless reinforce this confusion around the Google Nest brand name, because the actual app – the features in the apps – are moving from Nest app to Google Home app. so in conclusion, it’s a little bit confusing.

At times I’m just baffled as to why Google have actually named things as they have, and allowed things to progress as they have, because at the end of the day Amazon have a very clear branding strategy. Their smart speakers are called Echo and that’s a lineup of products, and then you’ve got Google… and then you’ve got the Alexa app. On the other hand, you’ve got Google who are actually doing the exact opposite. They bought Nest back in 2014, and then they released their flagship product two and a half years later – in November 2016 – and they called it Google Home all the while – sort of – said planning to actually change the brand name from Google Home to Google Nest, so you’d think that they could just rename the flagship product at that time. And as I said earlier they’ve also moved in features from the Nest app to the Google Home app, which is confusing.

I think Google probably are looking to resolve this – sort of – confusion and they’re probably looking to get rid of any Google Home based products, and then at that point you’ll simply have a Google Home app, and you’ll have the Google Nest brand name, and I think at that point they’re going to change their website to make it a bit clearer that you’ve got Google Nest as the brand name – is the product lineup – then you’ve got Google Home as the app, and I think that’ll be a much better thing, but right now it is a bit confusing. Uhm, it’s yeah it’s just confusing… there’s no other word for it!

Okay I hope that still makes sense! I’m being in a bit of a grumpy mood and living up to my t-shirt, but Google Home as a phrase… it’s confusing right now. It means four different things, but I hope you enjoyed this video. If you did, please click the thumbs up button and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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