Google’s newest Nest Hub is the tech giant’s best attempt yet to be all things to all people. The device so far has made a name for itself as a modern picture frame, the perfect kitchen assistant, and even a cool tool for makeup tutorials. Now, the Nest Hub can function as a sleep tracker, providing a better reason for you to let Google into your bedroom.
Nest Hub’s sleep tracking is built for anyone who is on the fence about using technology to assess how well they’re sleeping. It’s a very stripped-down experience compared with popular sleep trackers like Oura Ring or even the Apple Watch, but it won’t make you feel judged for your bad habits. And, if you do feel ashamed of your sleep statistics, you can easily delete them at any time in the Google Fit app (oddly, you can only delete your data on the Nest Hub itself within two hours after you wake up).
That makes the Nest Hub a great addition to the roster of available sleep trackers. In the week I spent trying it out, I found the Nest Hub to be extremely low maintenance. You don’t need to wear it, you don’t need to check it every day, and you don’t need to remember to charge it—it’s always plugged in. The tracker works in the background on its own.
The sleep tracking is enabled by Google’s motion-sensing Soli technology, which also powers the device’s new gesture-control feature, a user favorite that was previously available only with the Nest Hub Max. With gesture control, users can pause music simply by air-high-fiving the screen or move to the next step in a recipe with a wave. (Soli, which uses radar to detect motion, first launched in the Pixel 4 smartphone.)
In order for the sleep-tracking feature to work, the Nest Hub has to sit on a night table that is the same height as the top of your mattress (my side table is a few inches higher, though I don’t think it affected my results). The Hub will prompt you to lie in your bed as if you were going to sleep, but without blankets or sheets. It wants to capture the shape of what you look like sleeping, so it can sense your movements underneath your bedding.
As I’ve explained previously, the Nest Hub does not have a camera nor does it record video. The Soli technology follows your movements to understand whether you’ve had a restless sleep, how you’re breathing, and how long you’ve slept. Once setup is complete, the Nest Hub will track you while you sleep every night until you tell it to stop.
When you turn out the lights in your room at night, the display darkens just enough so the ambient light doesn’t disturb your sleep. You’ll still be able to see the time if you need to. In the morning, you can swipe through to the device’s “wellness” screen, where you will see how many hours you have slept and how restful your sleep was. It will also indicate whether you snored or coughed and how much, if there was a significant light change in the room, and what the temperature was. In addition, Nest Hub can suggest an optimal bedtime for you. The one biometric the device monitors is respiratory rate.
Overall, I found that Nest Hub gave me the same sleep measurements as the Oura Ring. Of course, the Oura Ring offers much more detailed biometrics like heart rate, heart rate variability, and body temperature, in addition to length of sleep, restlessness, and respiratory rate. It just depends what you want from your sleep device. If you want to biohack your way to optimal performance, you probably want a sleep tracker that gives you more details. If you’re looking for a device that reminds you to pay a little more attention to your sleep schedule without much effort, the Nest Hub might be for you.
In general, commercial sleep-tracking devices are at their best when they can help a person develop a routine without making them feel bad about not getting enough sleep. Nest Hub doesn’t rate the quality of your sleep and instead gives you broad data. If you have a serious problem getting adequate sleep, you should see a doctor. But sleep trackers like the Nest Hub can be effective if you want a device to help you keep a regular bedtime.
Many of the other features Nest Hub offers—a gentle alarm clock, the weather, news reports, music—you can get from your phone. That said, if you want to exile your phone from your bedroom, the Nest Hub gives you a good excuse to do it.
The real beauty of the Nest Hub’s sleep tracking is its simplicity: It’s basic sleep tracking for people who don’t have a lot of time to think about their sleep.