Andy Rubin's Essential announces first devices, including Apple HomeKit-ready assistant

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Former Google executive and Android creator Andy Rubin on Monday revealed the first products from his new company Essential, including the Home assistant, which reportedly supports multiple smarthome platforms including Apple's HomeKit.




Unlike the Amazon Echo or the Google Home, the Essential Home features a round display, which can be triggered not just by talking or tapping but by glancing at it. The device runs open-source software known as Ambient OS, which can offer up contextual information on its own, such as when to leave for an event given current traffic.

The OS can also automatically discover new devices on its network and help with configuration. Apart from HomeKit and Siri it's expected to support standards such as Nest and SmartThings, and have hooks for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, according to Wired.

Essential is also promising a deeper focus on privacy, noting that the Home's AI engine runs on-device and will communicate directly with linked devices whenever possible to avoid sending data to cloud services.

Although pricing has yet to be revealed, the Home should ship later this summer. An SDK will allow developers to build for Ambient OS.

The company's other product is the Android-based Essential Phone, built with a titanium body, ceramic back, and Gorilla Glass 5 protecting a 5.71-inch, 2560-by-1312 display. It runs on an eight-core Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of storage.




Aside from its toughness and high-end specifications, a key selling point is the magnetic connector system on the back, which enables a variety of add-ons -- the first is a 360-degree camera. Since there's no 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, audio output is over USB-C or Bluetooth 5.0.

Black, gray, white, and "Ocean Depths" colors will eventually be available. At the moment, though, only the black and white models can be preordered, at a cost of $699. The 360-degree camera is currently being sold for $50, well below the $199 Essential will eventually ask.

Apple is believed to be taking its first steps towards something like the Essential Home with a rumored Siri home speaker, which could be revealed as soon as WWDC 2017 on June 5. There's no indication yet that the product will have a display.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,289member
    It might also be noted that none other than Foxconn is a significant investor in Rubin's company.
    edited May 2017 repressthismacplusplusHBW1
  • Reply 2 of 47
    Curious as to how it works with HomeKit & Siri..
    calirepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,289member
    Curious as to how it works with HomeKit & Siri..
    Lots of folks will be curious about that. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 47
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    It's nice looking hardware for sure. Also interesting to see that Rubin (former Android head) chose to focus on on-device operations as opposed to cloud, similar to Apple's approach. 
    repressthiswatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 5 of 47
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    He fu*ked up when he went android for his iWannabe. Thought he'd develop something new. 
    wonkothesanewatto_cobraredgeminipa
  • Reply 6 of 47
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,779member
    We're on Bluetooth 5 now?  Cool, I like bigger numbers.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    CelTanCelTan Posts: 41member
    The hardware of the phone is interesting - at least it gives an indicator of how the little wings left and right of the latest iDesign are working - they seem to be more in the flow than the big cutout of this camera. But, looking at the designs and demo is one thing - the question is how this will perform in real life. What I am missing is the outcry of "no headphone jack" and "Waterproof" etc. that the feature tickers like to go through. Can't wait to hear the aDroids shout innovation and all that stuff that  is 'missing' - for a device that will essentially sell way lower numbers than even the mac mini... At $699, why not just get an iPhone :)
    watto_cobracornchipredgeminipa
  • Reply 8 of 47
    jason98jason98 Posts: 763member
    another day - another "assistant" 
    who is next in line to invade our homes and privacy?
    repressthisirelandwatto_cobracornchipredgeminipa
  • Reply 9 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,289member
    cali said:
    He fu*ked up when he went android for his iWannabe. Thought he'd develop something new. 
    That would make it dead in the water from the get-go. It's too late in the game to develop yet another app ecosystem without 10's of millions of users as customers to support those app developers. 
  • Reply 10 of 47
    slprescottslprescott Posts: 752member
    ...which can be triggered ... by glancing at it.
    That's scary.  Is this device watching me all the time?  How does it know I glanced at it?
    watto_cobrajony0cornchipredgeminipa
  • Reply 11 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,289member
    ...which can be triggered ... by glancing at it.
    That's scary.  Is this device watching me all the time?  How does it know I glanced at it?
    Perhaps the same way the old Moto X did from back in late 2014. Search "attentive display". 
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 12 of 47
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,888member
    Terrible introduction.  This is a shame Andy Rubin will introduce a new iPhone competitor not showing all the features. This is why Steve Jobs is so great.  He has nothing to hide. I fully trusted him from the beginning. 
    watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 13 of 47
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,888member
    For the same reason Apple Watch is not designed up to Jobs standard.  I think Jobs will design AW to be a Siri device.  At present you ask a question to Siri on iPhone it will display a list of web sites if it does not know the answer.  This is not possible on AW.  Jobs will put pressure on Apple engineers such that this thing will never happen on AW.  There is a lot of work to be done so this can be accomplished. Tim Cook does not have the strong will to push Apple employees to do such things like Jobs used to do. 

    The Echo is designed following this philosophy.  It only provide answers that do not rely on web links.  
  • Reply 14 of 47
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,779member
    gatorguy said:
    ...which can be triggered ... by glancing at it.
    That's scary.  Is this device watching me all the time?  How does it know I glanced at it?
    Perhaps the same way the old Moto X did from back in late 2014. Search "attentive display". 

    But a phone camera has a fairly narrow field of view (probably the wrong term, hopefully you know what I mean) in which to look for a face, a device in the corner of the room needs to be looking at the whole room, at all focal distances, right?

    Doesn't seem quite right.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,289member
    crowley said:
    gatorguy said:
    ...which can be triggered ... by glancing at it.
    That's scary.  Is this device watching me all the time?  How does it know I glanced at it?
    Perhaps the same way the old Moto X did from back in late 2014. Search "attentive display". 

    But a phone camera has a fairly narrow field of view (probably the wrong term, hopefully you know what I mean) in which to look for a face, a device in the corner of the room needs to be looking at the whole room, at all focal distances, right?

    Doesn't seem quite right.
    Why would you need the display on if you aren't close enough to see it? No need for it if you're in an opposite corner. That's why I suspect it's Moto's old attentive display recycled. 
  • Reply 16 of 47
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    The company's other product is the Android-based Essential Phone, built with a titanium body, ceramic back, and Gorilla Glass 5 protecting a 5.71-inch, 2560-by-1312 display.
    Hey.
    Apple.
    I want the iPhone "8" to have a ceramic enclosure.  Not just a Gorilla Glass back like my old iPhone 4 (circa 2010).
    You already have experience with ceramic enclosures (Series 2 Apple Watch Edition).
    Make us proud and solve two problems at once with a ceramic enclosure for the high-end 2017 iPhone.
    (Problem 1: Gorilla Glass shatters when iPhone is dropped.  Problem 2: Metal back blocks inductive charging.)

    Oh, and please make the 2017 iPhone ceramic enclosure black.  Not white like the Apple Watch Edition.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 17 of 47
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    The OS can also automatically discover new devices on its [sic] network and help with configuration [report their existence and your activities to the mother roach].

    watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 18 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    His thinking is interesting here and his reason for setting up this company. It's certainly the most interesting Android phone I've seen yet. It'll be intriguing to see how it reviews. I like that drop-durability was part of its design.
    edited May 2017 cornchip
  • Reply 19 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    sockrolid said:
    The company's other product is the Android-based Essential Phone, built with a titanium body, ceramic back, and Gorilla Glass 5 protecting a 5.71-inch, 2560-by-1312 display.
    Hey.
    Apple.
    I want the iPhone "8" to have a ceramic enclosure.  Not just a Gorilla Glass back like my old iPhone 4 (circa 2010).
    You already have experience with ceramic enclosures (Series 2 Apple Watch Edition).
    Make us proud and solve two problems at once with a ceramic enclosure for the high-end 2017 iPhone.
    (Problem 1: Gorilla Glass shatters when iPhone is dropped.  Problem 2: Metal back blocks inductive charging.)

    Oh, and please make the 2017 iPhone ceramic enclosure black.  Not white like the Apple Watch Edition.
    Who are you directing these wishes at?
  • Reply 20 of 47
    I almost wish iOS could be installed on other hardware, just so that other hardware ideas could be tried out, for fun.

    Because Android is an absolute disaster and I no longer give the time of day to any product that runs Android.
    edited May 2017 cornchip
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