In September, Google announced its Ambient Mode feature for Google Assistant, which shows useful information right on your lock screen when your Android phone or tablet is plugged in.
A Google spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that Ambient Mode will roll out next week to “the majority of users” on Sony Xperia phones, Nokia phones, Transsion phones, Xiaomi phones, and Lenovo’s Smart Tab M8 HD (when placed in its charging station) and Yoga Smart Tab (when using its kickstand) tablets. Oddly, Google’s own Pixel products aren’t yet on the list.
Yesterday, the company posted a new video showing Ambient Mode in action, and the mode shows on-screen items like calendar info, notifications, weather, and smart home controls. It effectively turns your phone into a smart display whenever it’s charging.
Ambient Mode looks pretty handy, even if it seems somewhat duplicative of a functionality you could already find on a Google Nest Hub, as my colleague Dieter Bohn pointed out in his original article. But in theory, it seems like Ambient Mode could tell you when your next meeting is, what your commute is like, and let you turn off the lights as you’re about to leave the house, all from your lock screen.
Google says that, for a device to support Ambient Mode, it must be running Android 8.1 or above and have the latest version of the Google search app installed. There are some reports of the feature rolling out now to Nokia phones and at least one Xiaomi phone, the Redmi K20 Pro.
It’s unclear when other devices might get Ambient Mode in the future, but the video does say that Ambient Mode is “deeply integrated” into Android and isn’t a standalone experience, so it seems possible that it will be available on more Android devices before long.
Update November 26th, 12:11PM ET: Added information from Google about release timing and phones that will support the Ambient Mode feature.