Google has quietly announced that it has ceased providing software updates for third-party smart displays from Lenovo, JBL, and LG. This news comes as a surprise to many, as these displays were once seen as a promising form factor for smart home assistants.
The announcement was buried in a support article titled ““Make Duo calls on your speakers & Smart Display,” where Google added an “Important” notice. The notice states: Google no longer provides software updates for these third-party Smart Displays: Lenovo Smart Display (7-inch, 8-inch & 10-inch), JBL Link View, and LG Xboom AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. This could impact the quality of video calls and meetings.”
Google first unveiled Assistant Smart Displays in January 2018 at CES, with models from LG, Lenovo, and JBL hitting the market later that year. The last third-party Smart Display to be released was a 7-inch model from Lenovo in late 2019. However, Google had announced in February 2019 that it would be scaling back major development on the underlying operating system, with Android Things being reserved only for OEMs working on Smart Displays and speakers. Prior to that, Android Things was positioned as a comprehensive internet-of-things platform.
Early on, Smart Displays saw significant development and new features as Google competed with Amazon’s Echo Show. However, in recent times, there have been very few updates. In fact, in February 2022, Google disabled the web browser on non-Nest Hub Smart Displays due to a lack of SafeSearch support, focusing solely on first-party Nest Hub devices that run on a different operating system controlled directly by Google, such as Cast and now Fuchsia.
In contrast, Google has continued to invest in the development of its first-party Nest Hub devices. For instance, the Nest Hub Max received new features like Look and Talk, which utilizes the camera for enhanced communication, and Quick Phrases to streamline voice commands. However, even these updates may be overshadowed by the rumored Pixel Tablet, which some speculate could be the future of the Smart Display form factor.
As a result, owners of third-party smart displays from Lenovo, JBL, and LG may need to consider the potential impact of discontinued software updates on the performance and functionality of their devices. Meanwhile, Google’s focus on its first-party Nest Hub devices and the upcoming Google I/O event may shed more light on the future direction of its smart home assistant ecosystem.