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.
You can look all the way back to the launch of the first Pixel phone to find Google has been tinkering with games in Assistant. Four years later and Google's directory of voice-controlled games is brimming with activities you can use to pass the time. And since smart displays have become a substantial part of the Assistant ecosystem, Google's sights are set on some more visually stimulating experiences that involve interaction through both voice and touch.
Ambient Mode lets you choose what your Google screens — Android TVs, Chromecasts, and smart displays — show when they're idle; it's basically a slideshow screensaver. Google's started taking the opportunity to do a little subtle advertising for its Pixel phones: a new Captured on Pixel photo category is rolling out as an Ambient Mode option.
With Google I/O falling victim to a global pandemic this year, a whole round of developments on Google Assistant has gone unannounced. But the company has made up for that opportunity with a presentation at the Voice Global 2020 virtual summit, revealing new tools for developers and new expectations for consumers when they interact with smart displays and speakers going forward.
Google's smart speakers and displays are brimming with features, some of which unknown. Many of you likely never noticed that they can ask their smart displays to star, share, or hide a pic when it comes up, but that feature has been available for a year. Google is now making it more visible by bringing the icons to the screen.
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Assistant-powered smart displays like the Nest Hub aren't exactly "new" anymore. But almost two years since they were first revealed and a year and a half since the Google Home Nest Hub went on sale, they still have one glaring omission: Netflix. You can't play content from the biggest streaming service out there on them, even though they have support for cast streaming. And, surprisingly, it isn't Google's fault.
Happen to have a bit more time and attention to devote to a hobby? Why not listen to audiobooks on your capable Google Assistant speaker or display? Google has made it easier for its smart device owners to sample and buy titles without having to use your phone or computer.
As part of its CES announcements, Google is taking the wraps off a bunch of new and upcoming Assistant functionality, like the ability to schedule actions, a new "Read It" command that dictates text content like news in a more natural voice, plus new Smart Display features like sticky notes and speed dial. While much of it won't land until a nebulous date "later this year," it gives us a peek at what to expect from the Assistant in 2020, and a reference for when Google re-announces half of it as new later once it's been in silent public testing for a couple months.