Users of Google's Nest Hub are reporting problems with the smart screen, with some comparing its functionality to that of a brick.
Except bricks have their uses, while a Google Nest Hub suddenly rendered frozen has little purpose beyond that of a paperweight.
The Google Home Hub (later called Nest Hub) debuted in 2018. Bearing a marked resemblance to Amazon's Echo Show, the device's purpose is to provide a visual user interface for supported smart home devices, as well the functions of the Google Home device. We can imagine many ending up doing duty as smart speakers or digital photo-frames. That's assuming they actually work.
The first generation devices were superseded earlier this year by the Nest Hub. Users of the older kit have, however, begun reporting some distinctly odd behaviour from their hardware.
Google Home (Nest) Hub, first generation. FYI: The first generation models can be told apart from the latter by the full bezel on the outside
A look at Google's support forums shows a litany of problems that seemed to start as summer drew to a close, with screens frozen and devices not responding to either factory resets or alternative power supplies and outlets.
"My Google nest screen is frozen with G logo. Cannot factory reset," complained one user. Another, perhaps a little more ominously, said: "My Google Nest Hub had been working just fine until a few weeks ago.
"It restarted after a recent auto update and now it's been stuck on the infamous grey screen with G logo."
Other users reported their devices freezing randomly, less than ideal if one has bought into the whole connected-home thing and irritating when one's favourite true-crime podcast topples over at the denouement.
The Register contacted Google to check what the issue might be (its support staff appear excellent at raising tickets, but less good at actually dealing with the problem) but we have yet to receive a response.
Google's Fuchsia Operating System began making its way onto devices earlier this year, replacing the Linux-based Cast OS. Some users have put two and two together, and come up with their own less than Fuchsia-friendly result.
One posted in Google's community forum: "They confirmed that the recent OS update has bricked hub devices with certain firmware revisions. They've been flooded with similar calls from other customers with this exact same problem."
- The Fuchsia is now. Google's operating system lands on real-world consumer devices, starting with 2018's Nest Hub
- Google Nest server outage leaves US, European smart homes acting dumb
- We need to talk about criminal adversaries who want you to eat undercooked onion rings
- What's for Christmas, Google? Oh, you're taking away free phone calls from our Nest speakers
- Google isn't even trying to not be creepy: 'Continuous Match Mode' in Assistant will listen to everything until it's disabled
The user later reported that Google had swapped out the afflicted device.
Sadly, not every user appears to have been so lucky. Register reader Alan Winstanley (also online editor of Practical Electronics) told us: "Mine's done the same, it's useless now after suddenly stopping working a few weeks ago for no reason at all.
"I fear I will have to sling the device in the bin," he added, "in which case I won't buy another Google Nest product."
We will update this piece should Google respond. In the meantime, the experience of users over the last couple of months is a reminder that even if devices are sold as smart appliances, smart screens and smart speakers, they are sometimes anything but.
A decidedly not-smart light switch on the wall is, after all, not subject to the slings and arrows of unexpected updates. ®