Whilst Matter and Thread promises to connect all of our internet-connected devices, this often requires buying new hardware. In addition, some devices, such as cameras and doorbells currently aren’t supported by Matter at all. So, if you’re an Apple user but have Google Nest devices as well, you’ll know that the two don’t talk to each other. The Starling Home Hub promises to solve that problem.
Starling only sells its hub in the US, but will deliver here. This means a hefty postage and potential import fee, so you need to decide if the total price is worth it. At the time of ordering, I paid $99 for the hub and $27.21 shipping to the UK. This translates to a total cost of £106.48. I was lucky and didn’t have to pay any import fees and I received my hub only three days after ordering it.
What devices does the Starling Hub work with?
Is your device compatible? The following are confirmed to work with the Starling Hub:
- Nest Cam Indoor/Outdoor/IQ
- Nest Doorbell (wired)
- 2021 Nest Cam (wired and battery)
- 2021 Nest Cam with Floodlight
- 2021 Nest Doorbell (battery)
- 2022 Nest Doorbell (wired, 2nd gen)
- Nest Learning Thermostat
- Nest Thermostat E (incl. EU/UK)
- 2020 Google Nest Thermostat
- Nest Protect (battery)
- Nest Protect (wired)
- Nest Guard
- Nest Detect
- Nest Yale Lock
- Nest Audio
- Nest Mini / Google Home Mini
- Google Nest Hub / GNH Max
- Google Home / Google Home Max
What’s in the box?
The Starling Hub comes in a small card box made of card. Inside is the Hub, which measures only 52 x 55 x 25mm. At the bottom of a box is a micro-USB cable, Ethernet cable and a USB mains adapter. The latter has a US socket on it, so you can either add an adapter or use any appropriate USB charger that you already have. The only other thing in the box is a quick-start guide.
There is no plastic wrapping on the Hub or USB charger but, annoyingly, both cables have plastic cable ties on them and come in separate plastic bags.
There are only two sockets on the hub – micro-USB (for power) and Ethernet (for network – there’s no option to use Wi-Fi). There’s no power switch and the hub has no lights on it at all, bar the usual LED next to the Ethernet socket showing network activity. This means there is no power light, or any way of knowing what the hub is doing.
One thing of curiosity is that there appears to be a micro SD card plugged in the side, albeit it doesn’t stick out and there’s no obvious way to remove it. It might be used by Starling to swap out the software, if all other avenues to fix a problem have been exhausted.
How easy is it to set up?
This is where it gets really simple.
- Plug the hub into a spare Ethernet port on your router and then to a USB power supply
- Install the Starling iOS app and start it up
- The app will (hopefully) find your hub on the network
- Once any firmware updates have finished, you’re asked whether you use Google or Nest to sign in, and then taken through the appropriate login procedure
- Finally, you scan the barcode on the bottom of the Hub, which adds it as a Bridge to Apple Home
- The app will say “this accessory is not HomeKit certified” but you can safely press Add anyway – the whole point of the Hub is because Nest products aren’t certified!
- If all is successful, Apple Home will start prompting you to add all of your Nest devices, and name them appropriately
When I went through the above, it successfully added all of my Nest Devices: one indoor and two outdoor cameras, a thermostat and four Protects.
Starling Home Hub app
Once you’re set up, the app is a one-screen affair with all settings appearing as you click on broad headings. Those headings are:
- Nest Home and Product Settings
- HomeKit Secure Video Recording
- Starling Developer Connect
- Advanced Settings
There is also a help section. Most people will only really want to look at that first options, which will give you a few additional settings around how your devices integrate with Home.
The reality is that you’re likely to use this app once and rarely visit it again. But that’s not a bad thing – the idea is to get your integration set up, working and tweaked to how you want, and then just leave everything to the Hub to keeps things as you like it in Home.
What’s it like in use?
As I’ve covered above, set up and configuration is simple. Once that’s done, you’ll find your devices in the Home app. Here’s a screenshot of how the thermostat shows within the app and a close up of the Protect sensors:
All of this also gives you the ability to use the devices in Shortcuts and Automations and, on top of that, you can make use of the Apple Watch Home app. And, let’s not forget, Siri will recognise them too: “Siri, what temperature is the thermostat set to?”
If you have a Google Nest Hub then Starling adds the ability for you to AirPlay audio to it, which is a great addition.
I know I keep talking about just how easy it is to use, but I’m so used to products promising the moon and not delivering, that when something comes along that really does the job, it’s almost unbelievable. The Starling Home Hub definitely delivers.
Starling Home Hub verdict
Ease of use
This is the absolute no-fuss solution to connecting all of your Google Nest devices to Apple’s Homekit
- Ridiculously simple to set up and use
- Compatible with a large range of Nest devices
- Adds Nest Hubs as AirPlay devices
- A touch pricey when there are free, open-source alternatives
- No status lights on the Hub, other than Ethernet connectivity
- US charger supplied