A big update is rolling out to Nest Hubs and third-party Google Assistant smart displays with lots of cool new features, many of which have been promised or teased/leaked for several months. The changes first started showing up several weeks ago, but are now rolling out to a wider audience. You can now (well, if the features have reached your unit) use your display as a sunrise alarm, put the Google weather frog as a background, leave sticky notes for your family to read, and more.
Lenovo was the first company to release a smart display powered by Google Assistant, even before Google itself came out with the Home Hub (later renamed to the Nest Hub). Lenovo followed it up with a new 7-inch model in 2019, which you can now buy for $40 off the original price.
Google's Nest Hubs and third-party Assistant Smart Displays have been receiving an update that vastly improves their smart home controls. Among the changes we spotted are live light status and scenes for Philips Hue and Lifx, new Shield controls, the ability to unlock your smart lock, plus controls for blinds, air fresheners, and vacuums. Other product categories may be updated too, but we don't have everything on hand to test with.
One of the best uses of the Google Nest Hub, Hub Max, or any third-party Smart Display (Lenovo, JBL, etc...), is as a smart digital photo album. I've already shared with you the steps to set up the photo frame plus tips to make the most of Live Albums, but there are a few new hidden capabilities that make it easier to interact with the photos once they're showing on your Smart Display. In this post, I'll explain how you can ask where and when a photo was taken, add it to your favorites, hide it, and share it directly with one of your contacts.
One of the most appealing uses of a Google Nest Hub or other Assistant Smart Display is as a photo album viewer. It plugs in to Google Photos and rotates through any album you want to view, providing you with (hopefully) good memories throughout the day as you pass by when it's idle. But static albums can be boring after a while, that's why you can make some live-updating ones so you never have to manually choose or change anything.
In the tutorial below, I'll explain how you can create dynamic albums that automatically add photos of specific people or pets in your life, then set them up to show on your Google Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display, JBL Link View, or any other upcoming Assistant speaker with a built-in display.
If you haven't already bought a smart display and you aren't skipping out over privacy concerns, you really should pick one up. They're a lot more than just a "digital photo frame," providing all the same utility as a smart speaker, plus piles of extra interaction from a touchscreen. But you might want to be careful about which smart display you buy. Lenovo's newest Smart Display 7 might have an attractive design, but it's got piles of little problems that might make the identically-priced (and often discounted) Nest Hub a better choice. Sadly, it doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by Lenovo's previous models, either.
One of the major benefits of having a smart display instead of a speaker is seeing relevant controls and information on the screen. For music, that means album art, playback controls, videos if available, and most importantly, lyrics. On Google Assistant smart displays, only titles from Google Play Music showed lyrics, but that's now rolling out to Spotify as well.
Lenovo's lineup of smart displays are some of the most popular Assistant-powered screens, but no product is perfect. Some owners are experiencing a bug that locks their smart displays in a loop while updating, but Google is already working on a fix.
There sure are a lot of Lenovo smart home gadgets on sale this weekend — the Smart Clock for $50, the 8" Smart Display bundle for $90, and now the larger the 10" Smart Display on sale for $140, down from an original price of $250. That's $10 less than previousonline deals we've seen.
The Lenovo Smart Display was the first Google Assistant screen, but with how cheap Google's own Nest Hub has become these days, there haven't been many reasons to go with the Lenovo model. Today, not only has the Lenovo Smart Display dropped to $90, but the company is also throwing in two smart plugs to sweeten the deal.