Lenovo is rolling out Smart Display R5 update with improvements for lights, home tiles, and more

The Lenovo Smart Display was our first taste of Assistant’s screen-first experience, but the Home Hub came out more recently with new features. The other smart displays aren’t dead, though. Lenovo is rolling out the “R5” update today that adds some refinements and new features to the display.

Lenovo was good enough to include a detailed changelog, so here it is.

UPDATED COOKBOOK FEATURE
Planning meals just got easier. Cookbook is your virtual cookbook that allows you to find recipes on your smart display and save them for later. Read MoreLenovo is rolling out Smart Display R5 update with improvements for lights, home tiles, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

AI will soon decide what you hear in Google Assistant news briefings

The news reports you get from Google Assistant are about to get a whole lot smarter, or so says Google. The same artificial intelligence that powers the Google News app is coming to Assistant. Google pitches the new system as a way to get quick, personalized news in audio form throughout the day.

Google worked with publishers like the Associated Press and South China Morning Post to develop the new system, which builds a custom news “playlist” each time you ask Assistant to read the news. Read MoreAI will soon decide what you hear in Google Assistant news briefings was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

[Update: Clear skies again] Today's forecast for Google weather includes offline servers with a chance of service interruptions

Update 1: 2018/11/30 12:02pm PST

Google seems to have resolved its weather issues, as forecasts are working just fine for us once again, across both Assistant on phones and Home devices.

If you’re like me, the majority of your interactions with the Google Assistant are questions about the weather. What’s it like now? What’ll it be like tomorrow? Is it raining in Seattle? Right now, though, such questions are going unanswered, as Google seems to be having trouble delivering weather information for many. Read More[Update: Clear skies again] Today’s forecast for Google weather includes offline servers with a chance of service interruptions was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Ikea's cheap Tradfri smart outlets are now available in a few countries

Ikea’s Trådfri (I just discovered that my keyboard has this weird å character) line-up is one of the cheapest smart home lighting systems, costing only a few bucks per light bulb on average. It started out with limited bulb options, but has expanded to offer light panels, drivers for LED lights, and has just added smart outlets as well. These were announced a while back, but weren’t available to buy until recently. Read MoreIkea’s cheap Tradfri smart outlets are now available in a few countries was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Google Home supports Brazilian Portuguese, Assistant adds 4 Indian languages beside Hindi

Google Assistant’s language expansion is continuing on. Google had promised that 38 countries and 17 languages would be added in 2018 and many have already launched over the past months. But the year is nearing its end and we’re still a little far from those numbers. Recent additions bring us closer though, as Assistant can now speak four more Indian languages and has expanded Brazilian Portugese’ support to Google Home speakers. Read MoreGoogle Home supports Brazilian Portuguese, Assistant adds 4 Indian languages beside Hindi was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

[Update: B&H too] Lenovo Smart Display 8" is half price ($100) at Best Buy in early Black Friday deal

Update 1: 2018/11/18 10:47am PST

Best Buy has brought this promo back. Although it looks like the retailer is temporarily out of stock and “getting more soon,” you can still place an order at

Update 2: 2018/11/24 1:51pm PST

If you’re looking for other options, B&H has it for just $100 as well, and they don’t charge tax outside NY/NJ. (Though you should remember, you may still be

Google Assistant smart displays are one of the most intriguing new product categories in recent years, but they aren’t that affordable. Read More[Update: B&H too] Lenovo Smart Display 8″ is half price ($100) at Best Buy in early Black Friday deal was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

TV commercial is spreading unsolicited Christmas Cheer via Google Home devices

Today I noticed something odd when I returned home from my morning croissant and hot chocolate. There was Christmas music playing throughout my house on my Google Home speakers. Eager to find the source, I took to Twitter and quickly found out that I wasn’t alone:

So the Currys Christmas advert starts with “OK Google, play Christmas music”. Yeah, that’s not going to get annoying fast
— Rob Game (@RobGameUK) November 2, 2018

Well thank you @curryspcworld Your ad is now activating our @Google Home to play Christmas music! Not funny! It’s not even December! 😡
— Bradders! (@Bradders_71) November 2, 2018

Hey @curryspcworld, your TV ad just triggered my Google Home to start playing Christmas music quite loudly at 10PM. At least get in touch with Google to blacklist your ads like they do with their own.
— antsu (@4ntsu) November 2, 2018

This may just be an innocent attempt to spread some early Christmas cheer, but in a society where even the smallest of things can offend almost anyone, is this an invasion into our personal lives or even a blatant violation of our privacy.
As home smart assistants become increasingly popular, shall we surrender to the fact that it’s something we’ll have to deal with on a daily basis? I can’t help think it’s one of the most intrusive forms of advertising. I’ve already had to ask Google to stop playing the music 4 times today.
The offending TV commercial is included below. I expect we’ll see a few more of these as holiday commercials ramp up over the following weeks.  Have you been affected by unsolicited Christmas cheer?

Our new 2018 Christmas TV advert is here! The Magic of Christmas, upgraded.Shop the Magic of Christmas at Currys PC World here; https://t.co/eIH6rloIoF #ChristmasUpgraded pic.twitter.com/7Legg6Iy6O
— Currys PC World (@curryspcworld) November 1, 2018

Update: It looks like Google is on the case.

Hey Darren, we’re sorry for the trouble — we’re looking into it. If this happens again, you can file a feedback report with the keywords “Home Ad Triggered”. https://t.co/ocLD88nIQW
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) November 3, 2018

 

Pixel 3 drops support for Voice Match unlocking

For a while now, you’ve been able to set up what Google calls Voice Match with the Google Assistant. It recognizes your voice and gives you personalized results, both on smart speakers and smartphones. It would also let you unlock phones to perform actions like making phone calls and sending text messages just by saying “okay, Google” — but that feature isn’t available on the Pixel 3.

The option to “Unlock with Voice Match” that was present in the Pixel 2’s settings has been replaced with “Lock screen personal results” on the Pixel 3. Read MorePixel 3 drops support for Voice Match unlocking was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

[Deal Alert] Get a Nest Hello doorbell and Google Home Mini for $199 ($79 off)

Google’s Nest family or products have particularly tight integration with Assistant. For instance, the Nest Hello doorbell can announce visitors if you’ve got a Google Home on the same network. Now, you can get both components of that setup (at a discount) in a single purchase from B&H.

The Nest Hello usually costs $230, and I think it’s worth that much. It has 1600p HDR video, attractive design, and it’s pretty easy to install. Read More[Deal Alert] Get a Nest Hello doorbell and Google Home Mini for $199 ($79 off) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Google Assistant now works with more than 10,000 smart home devices

The Google Assistant’s bag of smart home tricks is growing at breakneck speed. At the beginning of this year, the Assistant supported 1,500 devices; by May, that figure had ballooned to more than 5,000. Now, with little fanfare, the Google Home support page has been updated to show that more than 10,000 devices from more than 1,000 manufacturers play nice with Google’s ecosystem.

Everything from TVs and stereos to kitchen appliances and air conditioners can be controlled by voice via Google Assistant; if you can imagine a voice-activated smart home scenario, there’s probably a way to make it happen. Read MoreGoogle Assistant now works with more than 10,000 smart home devices was written by the awesome team at Android Police.