Android smartphones are increasingly taking on chameleon-like properties — they already possess a great deal of customizability, but Google regularly rolls out feature updates that push things further. With Android Auto, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a car-focused dashboard for hands-free navigation, calls, and music playback.
Now, with “Ambient Mode,” your Android smartphone can take on additional properties. First announced at IFA 2019 today, Ambient Mode will turn select Android devices into smart displays; not unlike the Echo Show or Google Nest Hub (formerly known as the Home Hub). With the feature on, you can set your device up to passively scroll through photos (pulled from your Google Photos account), display music controls, grant you access to a dashboard (containing smart home controls), and more.
As The Verge notes, you essentially get all the benefits of a Nest Hub, but with the ability to pick up your device and take it wherever you please. Plus, you don’t lose out on the standard Android experience, since you can simply swap between the two by plugging your gadget into its charging port or releasing its kickstand.
If Ambient Mode sounds like your cup of tea, we should inform you that there’s a catch. As we mentioned earlier, only select Android devices will support this feature. Currently, that list includes the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 HD, Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab, as well as the Nokia 7.2 and 6.2.
It’s unclear whether or not Google will open up this feature to all Android devices in the future.