The Google Assistant continues to suffer at the hands of Google’s product shutdowns. The latest products to die are third-party Google Assistant smart displays. 9to5Google was the first to spot this quietly posted notice on a Google Duo support page:
Important: Google no longer provides software updates for these third-party Smart Displays: Lenovo Smart Display (7″, 8″ & 10″), JBL Link View and LG Xboom AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. This could impact the quality of video calls and meetings.
We’re pretty sure that announcement applies to every third-party Google Smart Display that has ever launched, so the product line is dead. Google’s first-party smart displays, the Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, aren’t going anywhere and will now be the only options on the market.
Google Smart Displays put the Google Assistant on a screen and support all the same commands that a Google Assistant speaker like the Google Home or Nest Audio would; just shout “Hey Google,” and it will attempt to recognize your command. The screen adds the ability to see a visual accompaniment to your search results, usually either some text, a photo slideshow, a timer, or media or smart home controls. The system is a touchscreen and has a really basic user interface that you can swipe around in without needing to talk to it.
The smart display plan started in 2017 as Google’s answer to devices like the Amazon Echo Show. Google didn’t launch its own display at first and instead required a few third-party manufacturers to build the first devices. The $250 Lenovo Smart Display was the first out the door and got the most press coverage.
Google’s plan with third-party smart displays always seemed a little odd, because the company came up with product guidance for its partners that it did not follow on its own products and then used that discrepancy to undercut those partners in the market. Third-party smart displays ran Android Things, a new version of Android that was slightly scaled down for IoT devices, and the standard SoC platform for these devices was Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 624 Home Hub platform.
A year later, when it came time for Google to release a first-party smart display, it didn’t follow any of the recommendations it gave third parties. Instead of Android Things, it used a revamped OS based on the Google Chromecast platform and, because it wasn’t running the heavier Android Things, could use a cheaper chip from Amlogic. The result was a device that undercut all the third-party options in price by at least $50 and probably killed any interest in the third-party options.
Google’s plan to turn Android Things into a general-purpose IoT OS failed, and the project was killed in early 2021. These third-party devices have been limping along ever since. The Cast OS on the Google Home Hub is also dead and has been replaced by Fuchsia.
Google Smart Displays still have an offshoot product line out there, the Google Smart Clocks, of which two have only ever been made by Lenovo, and Google has never made a first-party version. Smart Clocks are most likely dead, too, they just aren’t mentioned on the Google Duo support page because they don’t run Google Duo. Just like the Smart Display, the Smart Clocks still run Android Things, just with a more stripped-down interface that revolves around morning and night tasks like setting an alarm and checking the weather.
The devices aren’t being immediately bricked, and while they won’t get future updates, they will continue to work for some indeterminate amount of time. It sure looks like hardware sales are over, too. Lenovo was the most prolific seller of these devices, and all of the company’s smart displays and smart clocks are listed as “out of stock.”