At IFA 2019, Google took centre stage to make a slew of announcements surrounding the Google Assistant. This includes a new Ambient Mode that essentially transforms Android devices into smart displays. It is also set to bring the ability to make video and voice calls via WhatsApp, a feature that will be welcome in countries like India where the messaging app is very popular. Google Assistant is coming to a wide range of new voice-activated speakers, soundbars, headphones, and a host of Android TV sets as well.
The tech giant has introduced a new Ambient Mode in Google Assistant that essentially offers a new visual overview that makes it easier to see notifications and reminders, start a playlist and control smart home devices on the lock screen of your device. When on standby, the screen will turn into a personal digital photo frame linked to your Google Photos account. Google says that Ambient Mode will first be available on the upcoming Lenovo Smart Tab M8 (when placed in its smart charging station) and Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab (when you pop out its kickstand), as well as the Nokia 7.2 and Nokia 6.2 when they are kept on charge.
Furthermore, Google Assistant will now allow users to make hands-free WhatsApp audio and video calls using voice commands. Earlier, it brought the ability to read aloud WhatsApp, Telegram, and Slack messages and reply to them using voice commands, and now the company has brought WhatsApp voice and video calling support for voice commands as well.
To use the feature, Google Assistant needs to be triggered and the command, “Hey Google, WhatsApp video [insert person name]” needs to be said. Before this, if a call was placed using Google Assistant, a normal call was placed by default, and if a video call was initiated, it was deferred to Hangouts or Duo.
WhatsApp Android app users are set to get the ability first, after which it will be rolled out to iOS users as well. The rollout is said to be underway but it could be a while before all users are able to use the feature.
Furthermore, the company has announced that Google Assistant is coming to a host of new voice-activated speakers and soundbars, including the JBL Link Music, Phillips AW25 and TAPN805 (soundbar), Konka G1, SEIKI Tough and Cigar, high fidelity Braun Audio LE01, LE02 and LE03. New Android TVs from Hisense, Sony, TCL, Philips, Changhong, Haier, Skyworth, Metz, Vestel, Sharp, JVC , XGIMI Projector, RCA and SmartTech will also come with Google Assistant support. Headphones like the JBL LIVE300 TWS, Harman Kardon FLY ANC, Bose NC700, Cleer Flow II and Halo, Phillips PN505 and PH805, and Sony WI-1000XM2 and WH-H910N will come with Assistant support built-in.