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.
If you leave your Chromebook idle for a few minutes, it'll go to sleep. That's a sensible thing for it to do, but if you've always wished for a screensaver, your prayers may soon be answered: a recent Chromium commit shows that Chrome OS could pick up a Chromecast-style ambient mode.
The latest update to the Google Home app is out, but it's not going to give you much to look at in the form of live changes. Instead, this update appears to be largely focused on adding new hardware support for Nest security products, and possibly a few others. There's also a new feature in the works called Talk and Listen that could be a solid enhancement to the Broadcast feature.
Ambient Mode is a feature on Google smart displays and Chromecast that features rotating images — artwork, news items, or your own Google Photos, depending on your preference. Previously, if you chose to display your own photos, Google's algorithms would evaluate your pics before displaying them, filtering out the crummy ones. Now, you have the option to include your less-than-ideal shots — if you want to do that for some reason.
If you own a Chromecast, a Home Hub, or a Smart Display, you may soon notice something different when using Google Photos in Ambient mode. Instead of showing up centered, two related pics will display side-by-side.
Last week, Cody spotted a change in the Google Home app for Chromecasts: the Backdrop feature was renamed to Ambient Mode. However, at the time, there was nothing functionally different. That is changing now, as the completely overhauled Ambient Mode settings have started to show up for some of us.
Google Home v1.30 is rolling out today with a minor feature rebranding and some internal changes that show continued development on Google for Households, possibly with support for multiple homes. There are also more features for the smart home remote control, and Smart Displays will use the Google Home app to set up Duo calling. As always, download links are at the bottom.
The Moto 360 isn't a perfect device, but it's still probably the king of Android Wear smart watches for the time being. One of the cool things about the 360 is the smarter way it makes use of ambient mode (not the ambient light sensor, that's different). The screen will stay on so you can see it without the full wrist-flip gesture, but you can make use of ambient mode to save power when you're not wearing the watch—just lay it face down.