Over the past several Google app releases, we’ve been tracking a Google Assistant Ambient Mode. With the latest beta on Friday, we now have our first early look at the always-on display feature.

Design and functionality-wise, this new Ambient Mode is similar to the existing Updates tab. As our Dylan Roussel enabled with Google app 10.24, it starts with the time in the upper-left corner and weather condition/temperature across from it.

Tapping the clock fills the screen for an interface similar to the existing charging AOD UI on Android 9 Pie. Ambient Mode’s background isn’t pitch black, but rather features a delightful gradient tuned to the time of day, just like the greeting.

The Assistant logo is at the bottom of the screen and can be tapped to slide up a “Hi, how can I help?” prompt. This specific part of the interface is already live on the Pixel Launcher today, and lets you ask a question or issue a command.

Assistant Ambient Mode is still in development (black text on dark backgrounds), and we’ve spotted a second interface that will likely be combined with the first before launch. In the screenshots below, we see the music controls previously spotted in strings.

This widget allows you to “Set up provider and play music,” with “Try saying ‘play music’ or tap here” as another suggestion. If audio is playing, controls include backwards/forwards and play/pause, as well as song name, artist, and album artwork. The app responsible for playback is also listed.

Widgets appear based on the context, with another card we saw providing directions and commute details to go back home from Google Maps.

A larger temperature and weather condition appears at the top, while Assistant suggestions are below. These bubbles change over the course of the day and are likely personalized. At the very bottom is a shortcut that lets you “Change Ambient display settings” to “change what you see here.” This entire experience can be exited by scrolling/swiping up.

As of the latest Google app, Assistant Ambient Mode is still in development, but this is our first look. At the very least, Ambient Mode is a much-needed upgrade to the Pixel Stand experience, which is currently quite basic. Much of the interface we enabled works great when pitched on a stand and viewed from afar. However, Google would also benefit from not limiting this capability to Pixel devices and requiring wireless charging (versus just a cable).

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article, and thanks to Till Kottmann

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com