When Google launched the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL (our review), they also released a wireless charging accessory called the Pixel Stand. Docking your Pixel 3 into the Pixel Stand starts a special ambient display mode that shows your Google Photos albums, your Visual Snapshot from Google Assistant, and a shortcut to the “My Day” Assistant routine. For the past few versions of the Google App, Google has worked on a new Assistant Ambient Mode that may replace the Pixel Stand UI on the Pixel 3.
Google App 10.24 beta rolled out recently, so earlier this week, 9to5Google accessed an in-development version of what they believe is the new Ambient Mode in Google Assistant. We also accessed what we believe to be Ambient Mode, though on our device there are a few noticeable differences. The first row of screenshots below shows the ambient interface that we see while the second row shows what 9to5 enabled. In our screenshots, there’s no weather and the clock is always centered, though its vertical position shifts. On my Pixel 3 XL, the Ambient Mode stays on the interface shown in the first screenshot while my phone is on my dock, but the interfaces shifts to the ones shown in the second and third screenshots whenever I lift my phone up. This behavior didn’t work on my Pixel 2 XL, so it’s possible that the new mode isn’t designed for the 2017 Pixels.
In addition, our version shows the new “stretch” clock face hidden in Android Q. This clock face was briefly accessible in Android Q beta 1 but can no longer be shown on the lock screen in newer betas. It’s interesting to see it reappear here when we also expect to see it as an option in the upcoming Pixel Themes app. Lastly, we managed to get a pop-up asking us to try Assistant’s new Driving Mode (our hands-on), though we didn’t manage to actually launch the new driving mode yet.
Top row: XDA’s screenshots for Google Assistant Ambient Mode. Bottom row: 9to5’s screenshots for Assistant Ambient Mode.
9to5Google also shared what appears to be an updated version of the UI we discovered last year. They speculate that this interface will be combined with what’s shown above to form the Ambient Mode we’ll see when the feature is launched. This second interface has a single column of Assistant suggestions like what we saw earlier, but it also adds a music widget.
If you’re on the latest Google app, you can launch the Ambient Mode activity and get the Driving Mode pop-up to appear by issuing the following two commands in an elevated shell:
am start -n "com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox/com.google.android.apps.gsa.staticplugins.opa.samson.activity.OpaAmbActivity" am broadcast -a "com.google.android.apps.gsa.staticplugins.opa.morris.notification.INTENT_ACTION_SHOW_MORRIS_AFFORDANCE"
If we manage to get Driving Mode or Google Assistant Ambient Mode fully working ahead of launch, we’ll let you all know.
Want more posts like this delivered to your inbox? Enter your email to be subscribed to our newsletter.