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Hands-on with Google Assistant Ambient mode for OnePlus devices

The Google Assistant Ambient mode for OnePlus devices is rolling out right now, with all previously “flagship killers” also included — as far back as 2016’s OnePlus 3/3T.

Of course, this isn’t a new feature to Android, as it has been available on selected Nokia, Lenovo, Sony, Xiaomi, and Transsion devices but the adoption rate isn’t the highest. Assistant Ambient mode essentially turns your OnePlus smartphone into a makeshift smart display — complete with all the trappings that come with that functionality.

As we have mentioned previously, this works in a very similar manner to Smart Displays and the Pixel Stand, as it provides two parts to Ambient Mode. The first portion is a revamped lockscreen that shows the time in much larger numerals or, if enabled, a Google Photos slideshow. New or incoming notification icons will appear at the bottom of your OnePlus device screen along with a quick shortcut to open the Google Assistant.

The biggest caveat to the entire experience is that you will need to have your OnePlus device plugged into a power source to bring up the Assistant Ambient mode. With no current OnePlus devices having access to wireless charging, it does make it a bit more difficult to just see things at a glance — like you can with the Pixel Stand. Having to crane your neck to see what’s on-screen might put some people off but it’s not too much of a problem.

Because display sizes vary between each OnePlus smartphone, you may find that the experience is a little cramped but you can still get key information at a glance. The dashboard is tailored to the form factor, with notifications at the bottom of the display and activating the Google Assistant brings up a new interface for OnePlus devices that sort of mimics the new Google Assistant UI that you’ll see on Pixel smartphones — although on a slightly larger scale.

Being able to see your agenda, weather, smart home tech, and more all from one easy to manage dashboard is also a huge bonus. Although it’s still important to note that you will have to enable it within your Google app settings to enjoy this extra functionality when your smartphone is charging. If you exit accidentally, you will get prompts from your notification drawer to re-enter Ambient Mode, allowing you to quickly launch back in, again — provided your charge cable is plugged in.

When Ambient Mode is active, tapping a notification will expand it and allow you to reply from the notification shade. Although one thing I’m not a fan of is the speed at which your Google Photos slideshow will reappear. I think it is far too fast and it would be great if we could tweak this just a little bit. However, you can personalize your library of images so that only certain albums show in the same way you can on smart displays and Nest Hub hardware.

My biggest gripe though is that when activated — and with a PIN code set — you will constantly need to unlock your phone to access any deeper information. I do understand that this is necessary for device security though. I am a huge fan of the quick toggles that appear for your Google Home connected devices. They have been really helpful to me especially, and make managing smart home hardware just that little bit easier.

As one of only a handful of phones that support the Google Assistant Ambient Mode, OnePlus owners will no doubt love this addition to their devices. It really does help sell or integrate you with the best voice assistant out there that little bit more, as it’s quite passive and will no doubt become something that you simply don’t think about. It’s this that really works in the favor of this move by Google and OnePlus, get the enthusiasts on board and help spread the good word of the Google Assistant.

You’re also given a pocketable smart display that comes with you everywhere, all without having to spend any extra cash — which is really neat. Plus, there is the added bonus that not even Google’s own Pixel line has been given the feature yet…

How to enable Google Assistant Ambient Mode on OnePlus devices

  1. Install the Google app
  2. Open the app-specific Settings > Assistant > Devices (Phone)
  3. Scroll down to Personalization > Toggle Ambient Mode
  4. Plug into your charger to activate!

Have you got the Google Assistant Ambient Mode on your OnePlus smartphone yet? If you have, let us know what you’re thinking about it down in the comments section below.


Author: Damien Wilde.
Source: 9TO5Google

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