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Lenovo launches a compact 7" Smart Display with Google Assistant

Lenovo was one of the first companies to cooperate with Google on an Assistant Smart Display. It launched the unoriginally-named but much-loved Lenovo Smart Display in both 8" and 10" variants last year and essentially won the product category over its competitors. Both the JBL Link View and LG ThinQ View failed to impress us as much as it did, and even Google's Home Nest Hub wasn't a proper replacement due to its lack of a camera for video calls.

Now Lenovo is building on that success with a smaller 7" Smart Display, which seems like a perfect competitor to the Nest Hub because yes, it does have a camera.

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Google Assistant expands to new devices, debuts Ambient Mode on phones and tablets

Google Assistant has had Ambient Mode for quite some time now. The current implementation of it only works on devices like smart displays or alarm clocks. We first saw evidence that the company is working on a version of it for mobile devices when telling strings surfaced in the Google app's code – quickly followed by some images showing Ambient Mode in action on a Pixel phone. Today at IFA, Google is ready to officially launch it. The company unveiled the first batch of mobile devices supporting Ambient Mode, along with announcing Assistant support for a wide range of other audio products.

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Pixel users can now access Google Assistant toggles right from system settings

There are plenty of settings that you can toggle for Google Assistant covering everything from privacy limits to languages to which voice you want to hear from. It's always been a scramble, though, to tap into those settings as they're several taps into your Google Account settings. Now, with the latest update to the Google app, Pixel users will be able to access those settings from their system settings.

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[Update: Back on sale] Grab a refurbished JBL Link 10 portable Assistant speaker for $40 (50% off)

Before I bought my Google Home Mini, I used a portable Bluetooth Jawbone Jambox to play music at home, but when I built my smart home infrastructure, I wanted to use Assistant to control my tunes while still being able to carry them around the house. Back then, Google Homes couldn't connect to external Bluetooth speakers, so I invested in a portable Sony one with Chromecast support so I could still enjoy some music while showering.

Nevertheless, a few truly portable and wireless smart speakers later came out on the market and let you interact with Assistant without worrying about cables.

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Face Match is rolling out in Assistant ahead of Hub Max's arrival

Google announced the Nest Hub Max several months ago, promising the new smart display would be able to recognize users' faces. Well, the necessary pieces are already in Assistant, although the Hub Max is nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, that means the Nest Hub Max won't be far behind.

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Google Assistant simplifies family group and contact relationship management

Google Assistant is becoming ever more capable, though it's moving rather slowly. The company is only now introducing an option to make it less chatty on phones right, and no-brainers such as simplified responses to light requests have taken way too long to arrive. Thus, it's nice to see Google simplifying another task that was previously only executable via voice. The Your people section in the Assistant's settings now allows you to assign custom relationships to contacts. It also gives you an improved overview of your family group (AKA Family Link or the "family" you've set up on the Play Store to share purchased apps with friends).

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Assistant picking up new silent-response option so you can finally get some peace and quiet

The Google Assistant can be genuinely useful, but it's also pretty chatty. Google just updated its support site to detail a new feature that invites Assistant to put a sock in it. Soon, you'll be able to turn off Assistant speech output on your phone.

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Google Nest Hub launches in India for ₹9,999

Back in May, we reported Google rebranded the Home Hub as it was about to launch in twelve additional markets. The freshly renamed smart display became available in most of these countries shortly after the announcement, but couldn't be purchased in India until now. Thankfully, the company just released its intelligent screen in India, more than three months after it promised it.

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LG revamping SmartThinQ app with Google Assistant voice commands for your fridge

LG is getting set to roll out an update to its SmartThinQ app that could change the way people use its smart home appliances: it will incorporate Google Assistant to recognize vocal commands for its Wi-Fi enabled laundry machines, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, and other devices.

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Lenovo Smart Clock update adds photo slideshows and Continued Conversation

The Lenovo Smart Clock is the first (and still only) Assistant-powered clock. It looks like a smart display, but it's not as capable as a Nest Hub or Lenovo Smart Display. The new update will bring it a bit closer, though. Google and Lenovo will help you enjoy some memories and spend less time talking to your clock.

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