Digital Assistants Now Have Screens: Amazon Echo Show & Google Nest Hub

Whether we’ve all embraced digital assistants or not, thanks to smartphones and smart speakers we’ve all become familiar with them over the past few years. While our early experiences with digital assistants relied on speakers and microphones we all knew it was just a matter of time before screens became an important part of using them. With the Echo Show and Nest Hub, Amazon and Google have debuted their flagship smart displays featuring their respective digital assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant. While speakers and microphones are still important features of these devices, they also have touch screens that offer another way to interact with the assistants. So what can you expect from these new smart displays?


Speakers and Microphones


Speakers and microphones are still key features of the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub smart displays. In fact, both Amazon and Google have worked to improve these, offering improved sound quality and microphones that can hear you across large rooms. In fact, the Echo Show can even hear commands over background noise.


Smart Home


One of the big advantages of using smart assistants is that they enable you to control smart home devices from a central hub. Personally, I use a variety of smart home devices from multiple manufacturers. Before smart assistants I often had to use multiple apps to control these devices from my smartphone or tablet but thanks to Google Commands and Alexa Skills, I can now control these devices using a single hub. Smart displays now give me the opportunity to control all of these devices directly on screen using their control panels and finetune my voice commands using additional on-screen controls. For example, a simple swipe allows me to enter the control panel and manipulate my thermostat or smart lights. Alternatively, I can give a voice command and the Echo Show or Google Nest Hub allow me to finetune that command with onscreen controls, like sliders for light brightness.


I find that controlling my smart home with the help of these devices feels much more organized and cohesive and it’s certainly one of the main reasons I recommend investing in one of these devices.


Photos and Video


It should come as no surprise that smart displays give you the opportunity to consume visual media like photos and video. Both devices will act as digital photo frames scrolling through your photos when not in use. The Google Nest Hub will even adjust the brightness and warmth of photos based on the light in the room, making photos look real rather than digital.


When it comes to video, both devices make it possible to access YouTube and other video sharing sites. However, the Google Nest Hub allows you to search YouTube using a simple voice command while you’ll have to use the browser on the Amazon Echo Show to access YouTube. Regardless, being able to access video on these devices gives them a huge advantage over their screenless predecessors.




Tablets and smartphones changed the way we cooked, allowing us to ditch bulky cookbooks and giving us access to cooking videos. Smart displays are poised to do this again by making that experience even better. Both the Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show will walk you through the ingredients and step-by-step directions to make a dish. They’ll even hold your place in the process until you’re ready to move to the next step and allow you to multi-task by setting timers, playing music, or watching video.


Other Features


It goes without saying that smart displays respond to all the voice commands and productivity features we’ve come to expect from our smart speakers with the added benefit of making them visual. For instance, rather than having Google Assistant or Alexa read your schedule for the day, you can now see your entire calendar right on screen. Some of these features are certainly much more useful when accompanied by a visual representation.


The Amazon Echo Show also features a built-in camera allowing you to make video calls.


Amazon Echo Show vs. Google Nest Hub


If you’re trying to choose between the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub, I recommend going with the ecosystem and assistant you’re more familiar with. At the end of the day, both devices are really great and offer similar features so go with what’s more familiar or intuitive for you.


When it comes to price, the Google Nest Hub is more cost effective so if you’re truly torn between the two, that might be a consideration.

By Mike Agerbo

June 18, 2019