Alongside its first phone, Essential is also unveiling the Essential Home — a clear direct competitor to the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo. Though it's tough to get a sense of scale from a simple product page with a few images, the Essential Home looks relatively compact and sleek. Rounded and smooth, the top surface is cut at an angle and shows off a 5.6-inch circular LCD that you can interact with.
The core of the Essential Home experience is what it calls Ambient OS — the software that ties it all together. Essential shows off the Home doing the typical home assistant features: playing music, setting a timer, answering questions and controlling smart home devices. Other features sound a whole lot like Google Home, such as alerting you when you have to leave for an appointment or you have an upcoming anniversary on your calendar.
The idea behind Essential Home is that technology is there, supportive, and proactive enough to be helpful, without forcing you to ask or type a question. It's in your environment; you can tap or glance at it, but it never intrudes or takes you away from the things that are important to you.
Essential is positioning this new technology as being "ambient" in that it will bring information to you rather than expecting you to ask for things all the time. The base of the Essential Home can glow to let you know about information, but you can of course tap the screen to activate it or just ask it verbally.
When it comes to controlling your smart home devices, Essential Home is supposed to be able to automatically "introduce" itself to your existing devices in order to help you set them up quickly. Essential is also offering an open SDK to build applications or hardware that can interface with Ambient OS on the Essential Home.
Unlike the Essential Phone, we don't have details on pricing or availability of the Essential Home. We get a link to sign up to receive more information in the future, but right now we have this single product page and a couple of simple blog posts to go off of. We'll need to see far more information and actually interact with the Essential Home before we can see where it fits in among the established players from Google and Amazon.