The Google Assistant-powered Lenovo Smart Display is now receiving an update that includes a new cookbook feature, better smart home integration, and several UI changes, according to a recent Lenovo forums post. Following the update, homeowners will be able to access a My Cookbook feature that allows the saving and retrieval of favorite recipes, in addition to a recipe recommendations card to suit the holiday season. Those who own a Nest Hello Doorbell will be able to interact with visitors via that devices 2-way talk functionality via touch controls as well. The firmware will apparently be applicable to both 8-inch and 10-inch variants of the Lenovo Smart Display and will take the software to version 188.8.131.52. The previous update was set to arrive within a few weeks of its announcement and this one will trickle out too but Lenovo claims this rollout will happen faster.
Several UI changes are also being implemented via this update, beginning with the ability to 'remove', 'favorite', or 'share' photos directly from Lenovo Smart Display. The 'dark screen clock face' has been scaled up at the same time to ensure that its more easily read from a distance and support is being added to switch over to Dark Screen mode when in low-light environments. Alarms can also be settable from the Quick Settings menu following this update. Previously, users had been taken back to the home screen after the display timed out. Finally, users will be taken to the previously accessed feature when they swipe off of the current feature and support has been added for turning off the screen.
Background: Lenovo's Smart Display released just prior to Google's Home Hub but essentially runs the same software underneath the hood. That means it runs a version of Android Things and Google Assistant specially designed to give users a visual representation of their smart home environment and controls. Aside from including a camera on their device for video calls via Google Duo, Lenovo also released two different versions of the gadget compared to Google's own offering. The eight-inch version of Smart Display features a 1.75-inch speaker and a 1280 x 800 touchscreen. The ten-inch variant offers a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and a 2-inch speaker. The speaker in both cases is rated at 10-watts and includes two passive tweeters. Each is also powered by the Qualcomm 624 Home Hub platform. The starting price is $199.99.
The new update follows on a previous release that added support for 'Home View' multi-room audio support, and the Google Photos Live Albums feature that was revealed back at the search giant's Made by Google hardware event in October. Also included in that was the ability to use the Nest Hello Doorbell with the Lenovo Smart Display but that did not include the 2-way talk features that have now been added. That larger array of user-facing changes took the version to 3.63.43 and enabled interaction with a slew of new smart home devices from TVs to speakers. With this latest update, Lenovo is basically filling out features and tweaking settings to make its AI-empowered display more functional and more user-friendly.
Impact: Each device built on the Google Assistant and Android Things is basically running the same software under the hood. So the majority of these features should eventually make their way over to similar offerings from other companies -- such as the Google Home Hub and the JBL Link View -- if they haven't already begun to roll out there. In the meantime, Lenovo Smart Display Owners will now be able to better control their Nest smart home integrations and to save their favorite recipes for easier access in the future. The UI adjustments should similarly make life easier with regard to using the gadget at a distance or in darker environments. The changes are going to be particularly useful for those who have their Smart Display installed in the kitchen area but the adjustments to the UI should benefit nearly every Smart Display owner.