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Google Nest Audio 2 wishlist: All the features I want to see

Is it time for Google fans to fly the nest?
By

Published onJuly 3, 2024

Google Nest Audio on top of coffeetable with a book and pair of Google socks

In addition to producing some of the most work-orientated smartphones on the market, Google adds another string to its bow with its Bluetooth speaker line. The Google Nest Audio is the company’s flagship smart speaker and replaces the Google Home’s air freshener design with a pillow-like unibody build. Under the hood, the speaker works seamlessly with other Google Nest or Google Home products. It also supports multiroom and stereo playback, Google Assistant, and Chromecast integration. Given the Nest Audio’s popularity and Google’s overall speaker sales, it is little wonder fans are chomping at the bit for the Google Nest Audio 2.

However, Google can’t stay complacent when Amazon continually updates its Echo lineup. Furthermore, Apple looks set to bring out new HomePods soon. With stiff competition from major competitors, can Google’s next-gen smart speaker live up to expectations? Here is everything I want to see in the Google Nest Audio 2.

An aux input

Pictured is the "G" logo on the back on the Google Nest Audio on a wooden surface
The back of the speaker is just as minimal as the front with just a small “G” logo and the power supply input.

To many music fans’ frustration, smartphone manufacturers have been axing the headphone jack for some time. Google is no different, having removed the 3.5mm port from every model since the Pixel 5a. However, there are still many smartphones that support wired connectivity. Even Google’s latest phones like the Pixel 8 Pro can be used with a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter. Unfortunately, the company has not included a headphone jack adapter out of the box since the Pixel 4. Instead, fans must purchase a dedicated Google USB-C to 3.5mm adapter from the company’s website.

Wired connectivity provides better audio quality, lower latency, and a more stable connection than wireless. However, the original Google Nest Audio only supports wireless connections via the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. The former provides up to 320kbps, 48kHz/ 16-bit audio sampling, and is prone to significant data loss. The latter often performs better with iOS devices and supports up to 250kbps, 44.1kHz/ 16-bit audio sampling. The Google Nest Audio 2 will play nicer with music fans and a broader list of devices if it includes a 3.5mm aux port at launch.

Less sensitive touch controls

A picture the Google Nest Audio touch controls used to lower the volume.
The Google Nest Audio is shaped like a little pillow.

Smart speakers come in all manner of shapes and sizes. For example, the Bose Portable Smart Speaker features a carrying handle and adorns buttons along the top side of the speaker. These control power, Bluetooth pairing, volume up/down, play/pause, mic mute, and “action.” All the buttons are concave circles and are indistinguishable from each other. The only exception is the power button, which features a small nub. While the controls feel pleasing, they may be less suitable for visually impaired users.

Unlike the Bose Portable Smart Speaker, the Google Nest Audio features three invisible and segmented touch-sensitive panels. The outer panels control the volume level, while the center control lets you toggle music playback. The speaker also features four centered LEDs, illuminating when you activate Google Assistant, Bluetooth pairing mode, and take calls. When muting the microphone, the four LEDs turn amber until you override the command with another function. However, while the speaker controls are handy, they are overly sensitive. This can cause accidental volume adjustments and pausing. The Google Nest Audio 2 would benefit from less sensitive touch controls.

Better sub-bass reproduction and room tuning

The gray Google Nest Audio speaker pictured on a white desk in front of computer screens.
The Google Nest Audio has a minimal design wrapped in a nice fabric.

The sound quality of portable wireless speakers is constantly improving. You also do not have to spend vast quantities of money to receive good-sounding audio. Budget Bluetooth speakers, like the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3, reproduce excellent sound for under $100. Unfortunately, some speakers fare better than others. Unlike its closest rivals like Amazon, Google’s Nest Audio falls foul of having a quieter output volume. It also has substantially quieter sub-bass reproduction compared to other smart home speakers. While it may seem an obvious upgrade, I hope the Google Nest Audio 2 will feature improved sound quality and a louder sub-bass output.

Regarding room tuning, the original Nest Audio does this to some extent. However, it is less qualified than rival speakers like Sonos’ catalog and the Apple HomePod Mini. The speaker’s “Media EQ” is handy for adjusting the output to suit your listening content, while “Ambient IQ” tweaks the output volume based on the amount of background noise. However, the lack of feedback control leads to a less-than-ideal listening experience in certain cases. Allowing the Google Nest Audio 2 to tune to room acoustics in real time would provide more precise and pleasing music reproduction.

Improved custom EQ

Pictured is the gray Google Nest Audio fabric stitching on a bedside table
The Google Nest Audio is well-built with tight fabric stitching all around.

As mentioned, the Google Nest Audio smart speaker owns two built-in EQ features. “Media EQ” is responsible for dynamically changing the sound depending on the type of media you are streaming. Its real-world application means the Google Nest Audio uses different tuning for streaming music and for using Google Assistant. “Ambient IQ” differs from Media EQ, automatically adjusting the speaker’s output volume according to your environment. However, this feature is limited to spoken word content like podcasts and audiobooks. It also requires the speaker’s microphone to be enabled, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

If you are not fond of automatic EQs, Google does provide an equalizer in the Google Home app. Unfortunately, the EQ is incredibly basic, profiting only “less” and “more” adjustments for the bass and treble. Those seeking a more versatile equalizer are best off downloading a third-party EQ app. However, this adds an extra layer of inconvenience to the user experience. The Google Nest Audio 2 would be more streamlined and premium by including an improved custom EQ at launch.

Environmental sensors

Google Nest Audio in black on nightstand next to bed
The Google Nest Audio has a mute switch on the back that physically disconnects the microphone when you don’t want it listening for the hot word.

Smart speakers have become incredibly smart of late. They can be used with voice assistants to search the web on your behalf and often come bundled with advanced environmental features. For example, the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) comes equipped with temperature and motion sensors that can be used in Alexa automation routines. These can automatically activate fans when the temperature rises or switch lights on when detecting motion.

Given Google is invested in home security with its Nest brand, we will likely see motion detection integrated into future Nest Aware plans. For example, Aware subscribers already receive alerts if a speaker hears alarms or the sound of breaking glass. Google could take this functionality further with the Nest Audio 2, including sending alerts when a baby cries. As with Amazon’s Alex Guard, some of these features should be available outside of a subscription if Google wants to remain competitive.

What would you like to see Google bring to the Google Nest Audio 2?

36 votes

Will there be a Google Nest Audio 2?

Pictured is the gray Google Nest Audio on a bookshelf with the lights blinking.
The lights on the front of the speaker light up to let you know when it hears you.

Google remains one of the largest multi-faceted technology companies in the world. In addition to dominating the search engine market, the company is a leading player in developing work-orientated audio devices. For example, the Google Pixel Buds Pro launched on July 28, 2022, bringing good noise canceling and Google Assistant integration. The company’s cheaper alternative, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, offer seamless Android integration for the productivity-minded.

While Google unveiled updates to its new Gemini AI feature at its recent I/O developer conference, there was no mention of an update to its Nest Audio speaker series. However, Kyle Bradshaw of 9to5Google recently uncovered a new device in the Google Home app (version 3.16.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, this device is named “Nest Audio” in the code, just like its 2020 predecessor. Bradshaw also discovered another device in the code labeled “Nest Hub Max” alongside the previous 2019 model. Closer inspection revealed that the upcoming device will use the same Google Assistant smart display software as all previous Nest Hubs. This makes it likely that Google’s next-gen Nest speakers will use Google’s Fuchsia OS instead of Android.

  • Google Nest Mini — October 22, 2019
  • Google Nest Audio — October 5, 2020

According to Bradshaw, there were signs of a new Nest speaker last fall. Notably, the product appeared to feature ultra-wideband connectivity, similar to the Google Pixel Tablet. Unfortunately, development seemed to come to a grinding halt last summer, with Google contemplating whether to ditch its Fuchsia operating system on the device. It is unclear at this stage whether Google’s next-gen Nest Audio speaker will be a renewal of earlier hardware or an entirely new project category.

Nevertheless, Google seemingly favors updating its Nest product category in the fall. For example, the Google Nest Mini came to market on October 22, 2019. The Google Nest Audio followed just 11 months and 13 days later on October 5, 2020. Judging by that metric, we should have seen the Google Nest Audio 2 come to fruition during 2021 or 2022. While that didn’t happen, it has been over three years since the Google Nest Audio came to market. We should see an upgrade soon, provided Google remains invested in its smart home category.

Should you wait for the Google Nest Audio 2?

A picture of the Google Nest Audio in a bathroom as someone brushes their teeth.
Running water triggers Nest Audio to increase volume levels.

The original Google Nest Audio is excellent for the minimalists among us and remains on sale from the company’s website and most major retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. Given it is a perfect choice for dipping your toes into smart home systems, it is fair to question whether the next-gen upgrade is worth it.

The Google Nest Audio ($99.99 at Best Buy) has a playful design and ships in attractive colorways including Charcoal, Chalk, Sage, Sand, and Sky. Those less familiar with Google Assistant can still enjoy the smart speakers’ simplicity without investing much time and money. However, avid Google fans benefit from integrated Chromecast, Google’s music service support, and the ability to broadcast to your Nest Audio when away from home. Those running multiple Google Nest and Google Home products can utilize multiroom and stereo playback. The speaker can also be used hands-free to conduct calls, set reminders, ask questions, and more.

Those looking for a more premium experience should consider the Sonos One (Gen 2) ($219 at Amazon). With a heftier price tag than most of the competition, this speaker comes equipped with built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It also integrates Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube into the device and features excellent sound quality. The speaker is sleek and features a humidity-resistant build, although it is not waterproof and has no IP rating. The Sonos One (Gen 2) connects via WiFi and even adorns an ethernet port on the back panel. Downloading the comprehensive Sonos app is vital for setting the speaker up. However, it also controls equalization, Sonos Radio, and toggling between rooms your speaker is associated with. Creating a multi-room system is a cinch and the speaker owns an advanced microphone system for taking calls.

Amazon fans are best off purchasing the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) ($99 at Amazon). Those already invested in the ecosystem will enjoy seamless integration with Ring or Zigbee-compatible devices. Amazon also brought integrated ZigBee Hub to the Echo (4th Gen) to consolidate all your smart home devices. However, the biggest positive of the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) vs the Google Nest Audio is that the former supports wired audio alongside Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming. Bassheads will also appreciate the comparatively strong bass response, as the woofer and tweeters are nearly identical in size. The Echo (4th Gen) wears a compact sphere design with four buttons built into the speaker’s top for audio playback, microphone mute, and volume controls. The built-in microphone produces excellent sound quality and is proficient at picking up the wake word. However, the speaker’s rounded design may not be for everyone.

iPhone owners are served best by the Apple HomePod Mini ($99.99 at Best Buy.) Measuring just 84.3 x 97.9 mm, the HomePod Mini is noticeably smaller than the Google Nest Audio. However, it comes packed with handy features including good sound quality, intercom capabilities, and Apple’s Handoff functionality. The speaker is especially adept at recognizing up to six unique voices, and the microphone reliably hears the wake phrase. Like the Google Nest Audio, the HomePod Mini connects via your Wi-Fi network. Unfortunately, the speaker’s Bluetooth utility is reserved solely for Apple AirPlay and Handoff. If Bluetooth connectivity is important, you are best off sticking with Google’s smart speaker. Nevertheless, while most controls come from your voice, like commanding Siri, you can tap the touchpad for basic playback and volume adjustment. The HomePod Mini is as smart as the Nest Audio, provided you have an iPhone or other Apple hardware.

FAQs

There has been no official confirmation from Google about the Nest Audio 2. There was also no mention of the company’s next-gen speaker at the Google I/O 2024 developer conference. However, trusted industry analyst Kyle Bradshaw of 9to5Google recently discovered a new device in the Google Home app (version 3.16) called “Nest Audio.” We could see the Nest Audio 2 launch soon.

Google’s Nest Audio 2 speaker has not come to fruition yet. However, it will likely own improved sound quality, Matter and Thread support, and room tuning features when it does. We may also see ultra-wideband connectivity, although this is not guaranteed.

The Google Nest Audio is an excellent smart speaker for beginners and more experienced users. The speaker has an affordable price tag, good sound quality, integrated Chromecast, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Google Nest Mini and Nest Audio share many of the same features including Google Assistant. However, the former owns a smaller form factor and cheaper price tag, while the Nest Audio has much better sound quality for listening to music and watching movies.

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