For the past several weeks, we’ve been tracking an “Ambient Mode” in the Google app. At IFA 2019, Google officially introduced the new Assistant Ambient Mode for Android phones and tablets.
Similar to how Assistant’s Updates tab is a “visual snapshot” of your day, Ambient Mode is a “visual overview.” It appears on and replaces the lockscreen of your charging Android device.
That said, there is a pseudo “lockscreen” for Ambient Mode in the form of a Google Photos slideshow. The time is noted at the top of the screen and an Assistant icon to launch voice search is at the very bottom. Your current battery percentage, charging speed, and time until full estimate is below. This experience is very similar to the Pixel 3 when it’s on a Pixel Stand.
Meanwhile, users can also interact with Ambient Mode. On a larger-sized display, like a tablet, the “home” view shows the time in the top-left corner and familiar Assistant greeting with your next appointment. On the opposite side is the weather condition and temperature. A right column shows calendar notifications, reminders, and music.
Songs you were just listening to can be resumed with fullscreen controls that note the name, album, and cover art. The last part of Ambient Mode are controls for your smart home. This includes viewing camera feeds, quickly turning on/off lights, or managing the thermostat.
Google Assistant in this form is very much a lean-back experience that’s similar — if not better — than Smart Displays. One minor, but appreciated difference is the blurred background that isn’t stark white.
At IFA 2019, Google has announced Ambient Mode for two Lenovo Android tablets that feature a dock or built-in kickstand that starts the visual overview automatically. It’s also available on the Nokia 6.2 and 7.2 during charging.