Google has announced a new update for all Google Assistant-powered Smart Displays that overhauls nearly the entire experience. You still say “Hey Google” to activate the Assistant so not everything is new, but in terms of its interface and feature set, there’s a lot changing.
The biggest new additions are multi-account support and dark mode. Google is finally giving people the ability to add more than one Google account to their Smart Display so they can do things like check their work calendar or join a meeting. Your accounts will work in tandem with all your information essentially pouring into the same pot. And of course, dark mode does what dark mode does best: it makes everything dark.
Another big feature in this update is the ability to make a Zoom call. Google says the feature will be shipping later this year to all Smart Display users, so don’t expect it to work as soon as you get this update.
Of course, the biggest visual change is the new homescreen which is divided into five different sections: the time of day, Home Control, Media, Communicate, and Discover. The sections are accessible in a navigation menu at the top of the screen.
The time of day section will show you information in dynamic grids based on what Google thinks is important to show you throughout the day. The Home section lets you control all of your connected smart home accessories. The Media section gives control over media playing on the device in addition to other Assistant/Chromecast devices. The Communication section lets you place a phone call, start up a video call, or broadcast your voice throughout your home. Finally, the Discover section shows you all of the stuff you can do with the Google Assistant in case you get lost.
In the update, Google is also adding a new Sunrise Alarm to Smart Displays which will gradually increase the display’s brightness 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. That way, you can gradually wake up instead of being freaked out by a screeching sound in the pitch darkness of your bedroom. Google has also added relaxing sounds to help you drift off to sleep. They don’t provide a whole list of sounds available, but they do mention rainfall and crickets as two options. You can choose to have the sounds play all night or after a specific amount of time.
Rounding things off, on the Nest Hub Max, Google Meet will now auto-frame itself to ensure you’re always centered if you move around. There are also a few new menu options for greater control over meetings.
Of course, all of these features are touch-specific on a device that’s primary purpose is to respond to your voice commands. that’s why they’re all still hidden behind whatever your static screen is, whether it’s a Google Photos slideshow or a simple clock. Google wants you to still use your voice for everything, but in case you’re close enough and don’t wanna talk, you can reach over and do more with your fingers.
The new Smart Display experience is rolling out now. Expect the update on your display soon.
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