Google's latest smart displays come with ultrasound sensing, a neat tech that uses ultrasonic waves to measure distance to nearby objects and adapt the UI depending on how near of far you are. Timers, weather reports, media controls, and other elements grow larger when you step away, to make it easier for you to spot them at a distance, then return to their regular size when you come close. This same technology appears to be at the heart of a new feature Google is working on, which proactively triggers Assistant the moment you come near without you having to say "Hey Google" first.
Google has been making smart displays with Assistant for over two years now, but they've functioned more or less the same that entire time. Some models have upgraded features, like the wide-angle lens on the Nest Hub Max, but the core software experience hasn't changed. That's no longer the case, as Google is finally rolling out the upgraded UI that was first spotted in September.
A couple of weeks ago, a new interface appeared for one of our tipsters on his Nest Hub Max. He showed us the tabbed UI, with more on-device controls and actionable cards, in a short video that had revealed it all — or so we thought at the time. What we're discovering now is that there's a new dark mode coming to the Hub Max (and possibly other smart displays?) and a new tap-and-hold gesture as well.
Call it a quality-of-life update or maybe even a "quality-of-memory" update: Google will soon begin listing dates and locations of users' own pictures if they have turned on Google Photos slideshows for their Nest displays and/or Chromecast screens. Display and Chromecast owners were emailed about the change which begins rolling out September 15.
Google's a company that's always experimenting with new features and tweaks for its software to improve the user experience. Now a new video has surfaced showing a completely revamped UI on the Nest Hub Max that makes touch controls easier to access — and it looks promising.
The onset of COVID-19 caused a rapid growth in demand for video conferencing apps, as school classes and office meetings everywhere went virtual. Google Meet and Google Duo added support for group video calls on smart displays earlier this summer, but now another popular contender is poised to join the club: Zoom will be available on smart displays from Google, Facebook, and Amazon later this year.
Usually, we're stuck waiting for dark themes to land, but today's news is the opposite: A more uniform light theme has rolled out to Nest smart displays. Seemingly delivered via a software update (v. 126.96.36.1990035839, according to 9to5Google), more UI elements now match the otherwise bright white light theme on both smart displays.
Smart Displays are handy devices, whether you place them in your kitchen to assist you while cooking, next to your bed to have a quick glance at the weather in the morning, or in your kid's room to watch YouTube videos while you change their diapers. Unfortunately, until now, they weren't able to play your favorite Netflix shows, but this wrong has now been righted, and you'll get to enjoy watching Netflix content right from your Nest Hub and Hub Max.
Launched late last year, the Nest Hub Max packs a lot into a single device. It's a Google Assistant smart speaker with a 10" HD display, and now it even supports group video calling via Duo and Meet. As part of the Google Store's new daily specials event, you can pick up a Nest Hub Max 2-pack for $383 ($75 off).
Along with its announcement of group Duo and Meet video calling on the Nest Hub Max and select other smart displays, Google yesterday mentioned that it was beginning to roll out the household contacts feature, which had been promised since January, to Assistant speakers and displays. Today, the option showed up on our Lenovo Smart Displays and Google Nest Hubs, and appears to be making its way to more and more users.