Google is at it again; It seems every time we turn around the company is tackling a new market whether it be software or physical devices. Now Google is setting their sights on Wi-Fi routers, announcing OnHub yesterday, a supposedly painless and high performance router that will be available for purchase August 31st for $199.99.
Onhub is Google’s way of fixing common issues people tend to have with their routers, like a confusing set-up operation and vague user interfaces. The new product is said to be very easy to set up, manage, and boasts a higher performance than your typical router while also giving you the ability to connect it to other smart home accessories. It updates on its own, and connects to an app you can download on iOS and Android phones which eliminates the troublesome process of discerning what two blinking lights mean from three blinking lights. The app can also prioritize a device its connected to (in case you need to add some extra power to a certain stream), trouble-shoot a connection, and tell you how many devices are currently connected to the router and what kind of speeds they’re getting. The cylindrical design also allows better network penetration throughout your home, since it contains 13 antennas inside – 12 for casting a signal and one for measuring your network’s accessibility – and includes support for 802.11ac and 5GHz Wi-Fi.
While it may bear a physical and technical resemblance to the Amazon Echo, the voice command device from the online shopping center, OnHub is nothing but a router – at least for now. Google made it clear that they are going to bring new features to this new device over time, and with the integration of Bluetooth LE as well as Weave – the software language that helps connect smart home devices to each other – it’s shaping up to be a simplistic way of controlling things like your TV’s, light bulbs, and maybe even microwaves and refrigerators, through one simple source. But that’s still in the works, as of now the main goal of OnHub is to aid you in the frustrating process of setting up your home Wi-Fi.
“We spent a lot of time with people who were having all kinds of trouble with their Wi-Fi.” said Google product manager Trond Wuellner, who has worked extensively with Wi-Fi while working on wireless connectivity for Chromebooks during his eight years at the company. As big and broad as Google is getting, at its core it still essentially represents the every-man in terms of technology, and OnHub hasn’t yet broken that image (while drones and self-driving cars might). It’s simply another venture that puts the brilliant minds of the company behind another increasingly common issue.
As for security, it’s not exactly crazy to be concerned about letting in a conglomerate business like Google, which already tracks tons of info on us, into our very homes and injecting them into our internet. However, I would advise putting away your tin-foil hats for now as there are settings in the app that address these very interests, giving the user control over what data is being shared.
“We’re actually really proud of the work we’ve done around making sure OnHub is a trustworthy and secure member of your family,” says Wuellner. “We’ve drawn a very strong, hard and fast line around inspecting any information or websites about the content you’re looking at in your home.”
So overall, it looks like an interesting new take on routers and has tons of potential for reshaping your home into an inter-connected house-of-the-future. How well it actually works is yet to be proven, but with Google’s track record I wouldn’t doubt that most – if not all -of what they advertised is true.