The best feature of the Google Home Hub, Ambient EQ, is not available to partners. Google is keeping it to themselves for use on its own Made By Google products only.
Ambient EQ is a feature that Google debuted on the Home Hub this past October when it was announced. It essentially measures the amount of light in the room and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly. This keeps the Home Hub from lighting up an entire room at night, so that it can actually be used in a bedroom and not keep you up all night.
The feature works really well, and many Home Hub users say it's one of the best features on a smart display today. However, Google won't let its partners use this feature in its own smart displays. Google has already worked with companies like Lenovo, LG and JBL on smart displays, they all have their own version of this, but Google's Ambient EQ works the best.
Chris Turkstra, the director of product management for the Google Assistant confirmed at CES last week, that Ambient EQ is exclusive to Google's hardware. Stating that it is something "the Google hardware team developed internally, and it's used for that." Not really giving much of a reason why, but it appears that this is separate from the Google Assistant team, hence why it is not available for partners.
The news is unfortunate, given the fact that Lenovo just unveiled its Smart Clock at CES as well, which would work great with Ambient EQ. However, Lenovo isn't totally screwed here. As the ambient features it used on the Smart Display that debuted last year, has worked really well. It gets very dark – almost impossible to see – when there are no lights on in the room. So while the Ambient EQ feature would be great here, it's not necessarily a deal breaker for Lenovo.
This is just another way that Google is looking to establish itself as a hardware maker. Something that Google has been working on for a few years now, with the Made By Google brand. And keeping this feature to its own hardware means that it has a leg up over third-party smart displays. Making it a better option for those looking for a smart display right now.
Of course, Ambient EQ is not the only thing that Google has kept exclusive to its own hardware. The Google Pixel smartphones have a number of features that are only available on the Pixel. Like unlimited Google Photos storage, or Night Sight and Top Shot in the camera – which debuted on the Pixel 3 this past year. So this isn't anything new for Google, but it still sucks for those looking to buy a third-party device.
Google is essentially doing what its partners have been doing for years on Android. Companies like Samsung, LG and HTC all have their own "skins" on Android to help their phones stand out amongst the millions of smartphones out there. That is essentially what Google is doing here, giving its own smart display a feature to stand out from the other smart displays out there.