What you need to know
- Google is rolling out ten new features for its Smart Displays.
- This includes a new UI divided into different tabs, as well as a dark mode.
- Smart Display with Google Assistant will now also support multiple accounts on the same device.
You may normally interact with your smart speaker or even your smart display with voice commands, but Google's finally decided to make better use of that screen beyond just enabling video calls and the occasional YouTube video. The company is rolling out a new 'visual experience' for its smart displays, replacing the old one-page home screen with a new tabbed interface.
There are now five tabs on the main screen: Your Morning, Home Control, Communications, Media, and Discover. The first tab, which actually changes to Your Afternoon/Evening based on the time of day, is designed to give you the most important information at the moment. So, it'll show you your first meeting of the day or the weather in the morning and adjust its recommendations accordingly as the day goes on.
Home Control, as you might guess, lets you control all your connected devices from one central location, while Communications will be your go-to for all those video conferences we're all doing these days. Oh, and alongside Google Meet and Duo, Assistant-enabled smart displays will also support Zoom "later this year."
And when you are in that meeting, Google Meet now supports auto-framing the video so that if you're pacing around the kitchen while talking to your boss (though I wouldn't recommend doing that!), the camera always stays focused on you. Google's smart displays are also getting a bunch of other features to make your videoconferencing experience a little better, such as pinch-to-zoom, four-person grids, video pinning, and the ability to cancel or reschedule upcoming Meet appointments right from the device.
Making the reality of working from home a little easier, Google's smart displays can now show information for more than one Google account (finally!), so you can see the upcoming engagements from both your personal and work accounts on the same device. In a similar vein, other members of your family can also set up with their own Meet accounts on the same device, for a maximum of five accounts per device.
When you're done with work for the day and want some leisure time on the couch, the Media page will show you suggestions for videos, music, and other entertainment from both Google's own first-party services as well as a bunch of third-party vendors like Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify. If you're still bored, though, you can also check out the new Discover tab, which shows you all the cool things you can do with your smart display.
And when it's time to sleep, your eyes will thank you for the long-awaited Dark Mode that's finally coming to Google's smart devices, while the Your Evening tab gives you the option to play your choice of soothing sounds as you drift off to sleep. Come morning, the new Sunrise Alarm will mimic the rising sun by gradually increasing the screen's brightness as your alarm approaches, completing the daily cycle, and rousing you for yet another round of the eternal rat race that is life. Google really does think of everything!
Many of these features will become available over the next few days, while Zoom integration and the Meet UI options are slated for "later this year." You also won't be able to add your work account to the smart display unless your Workspace account is signed up for the Assistant Beta Program.
If you're looking for a Google-powered smart display, the Nest Hub may just be the best value for your money. And it's vibrant 7-inch display will make the new UI all the more pleasing for you to look at!
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