Google has stopped updating some smart displays from third-party vendors. This is part of a wider shift away form Assistant products. 9to5Google found a support page that stated that it would no longer provide updates for the Lenovo Smart Display and JBL Link View as well as the LG Xboom AI ThinQWK9 Smart Display.
The three displays were made available in 2018 just months after Google announced its Smart Display platform and its Home Hub, as it tried to compete with Amazon’s Alexa. These devices received some updated features from Google over the years, but they didn’t get the same attention as its Nest hub displays.
Google’s decision not to support third-party devices does not mean that they will cease working. However, it is indicative of the trends over the last few years. They won’t get any new features and updates.
Google began to remove features such as the ability browse web pages on third-party displays. The Nest Max received new quick phrases that allowed you to command Google Assistant using fewer words. also added support for Matter. Google’s Assistant-powered LenovoSmart Clock 2 is not mentioned in the update. However, it leaves me wondering about the future of this device.
It seems that Google is discontinuing third-party product updates as a way to get rid of a line of products which have been replaced largely by the Nest Hub (which may soon become the dominant Pixel tablet ), but also because it shows that Google is moving away from the Assistant of yesteryear and focusing on generative Ai technology like Bard.
A memo obtained by CNBC last month stated that Sissie Hsiao, the head of Google Assistant, informed workers that Amar Subramanya would be taking over as the Bard team’s vice president for engineering. The memo also stated that the division would play a more supporting role while Google works on Bard.
Hsiao stated that the Bard teams will continue their work and that they want to make sure we support and execute the opportunities ahead. The memo was viewed by CNBC. “This year, we have been more focused on delivery and impact for our users than ever before.”
A report from the Information in October revealed that Google was spending less on Assistant products for cars than it did in other third-party devices, such as TVs, headphones and smart home speakers. According to Hsiao, Android Auto makes just $1 billion per year. This is not enough to offset the $257.6 million Google spent last year. This is why Hsiao may decide to move some people away.
This is evident in the recent Google moves to reduce its dependency on Assistant. Google last year shut down Assistant-powered Driving Mode dashboard, and is now planning to turn off Assistant games and apps in June. Google could even be considering shuttering the Google Now Launcher Assistant-like feature, that was launched to Android devices in 2014 .
With Google I/O only one month away we will see if old Assistant technologies are still used in new products, or if newer flavors are all Google wants to talk about. According to The New York Times , Google will be displaying several new AI tools at the event. These include an AI image generator studio, a video summarization and a third edition of AI Test Kitchen which allows people to test out AI prototypes.