Google posted a new video today showing its upcoming Ambient Mode feature for Google Assistant in action on an Android device. The company first announced Ambient Mode at IFA in September. The mode shows onscreen items like calendar info, notifications, weather, and smart home controls on your lock screen when your phone or tablet is plugged into a charger. It effectively turns your phone into a smart display and until now, we didn’t know how it would actually function in real time.
Ambient Mode looks pretty handy — even if it might be seems somewhat duplicative of functionality you’d already find on a Google Nest Hub, as my colleague Dieter Bohn pointed out in his original article. But, in theory, it seems like Ambient Mode could tell you what your next meeting is, what your commute is, and let you turn off the lights as you’re about to leave the house, all from your lock screen:
But if you want to try this out right now, you might have to wait. Based on the September announcement, we only knew of four devices that will get Ambient Mode: two Lenovo tablets, the Yoga Smart Tab and the Smart Tab M8, and two Nokia phones, the Nokia 6.2 and Nokia 7.2. This video doesn’t say if those devices have Ambient Mode now, though there are some reports of the feature rolling out to Nokia phones, as well as to some Xiaomi devices.
And Google’s video only says that Ambient Mode will be on “select devices” on Android 8.0 and above, so we’re not sure if it might roll out to more devices, or which ones. We’ve asked Google if they can tell us more and we’ll update this article if we hear back.
The video does say that Ambient Mode is “deeply integrated” into Android and isn’t a standalone experience, so it seems possible that it will be available more Android devices someday.