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Google Assistant’s smart home controls are getting a visual accompaniment

Google is borrowing from the new range of Smart Displays by bringing touch-friendly smart home controls to the Google Assistant on mobile.

When asking Google to adjust the lights or the thermostat in Assistant, mobile users soon will see a visual representation on their screens. From there it’ll also be possible to manually adjust those values, judging by screenshots spied by a Droid Life reader (below).

So, if you ask the Assistant to set the office lights to a certain brightness, you can further fine-tune that on the screen – without having to use voice additional commands. As well as a slider, controls for smart home items like a thermostat also offer the ability to hit +/- buttons to manually adjust the temperature.

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Screenshots of Google Assistant about visual controls regarding portable unit's temprature and family room light brightness

The feature appears on the third-party Smart Displays Google from the likes of Lenovo, LG and JBL. Right now the tool is only rolling out to a limited number of mobile users, so stay on the lookout.

The Smart Displays, headlined by Lenovo’s stylish device, were announced at CES 2018 back in January, and are Google’s answer to devices like the Amazon Echo Show. They allow users to expand the power of the Assistant voice service, while leveraging visual tools.

So, for example, users could ask to see their agenda for the day and see it on the display. They could also ask for recipes and follow them step-by-step along with a video. They can also make video calls and view content ‘Cast’ from another device. The devices are also compatible with Nest, Spotify and Philips Hue.

In our hands-on with the Lenovo Smart Display, back in May, Max Parker wrote: “While I’m not completely sold on the idea that smart speakers need to have physical screens, there’s no doubt that Google has built a UI that feels at home on such a device. The sleek style instantly pushes it above the Echo Show and the wide support Assistant already has means you won’t be short of things to do.”

The Lenovo device is now available in the United States in 8-inch and 10-inch editions, starting at $199. The UK release date is yet to be confirmed.

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