4 min read

There is no denying that Amazon Echo, HomePod and Alexa have brought about a revolution in the digital assistant space. A careful study will however point to few common observations about these products.

  • They are merely a representation of what the assistant is thinking.
  • They can only perform scheduled tasks like playing a song, answering predefined questions, making a todo list.

This is where the latest innovation by Lenovo on the Google powered Smart Assistant stands out. It’s not just an assistant that can perform pre-planned tasks, it’s a Smart Display.

How does Google’s Lenovo Smart Display look?

Google’s Lenovo Smart Display

Source: Techhive

The Google Smart Display UI comes in two versions: an 8-inch model with a 1280 x 800 resolution touchscreen for $US200, and a larger 10-inch version with a 1920 x 1200 display. Although Lenovo is the first company in the Smart Display UI domain, others like JBL, LG are also planning to come up with their own versions of this. The screen is not merely an add-on to the speaker based systems like Alexa, but it is a display based on the Google smart assistant, which really increases its functionality. The rear design is sleek and it’s easy to be used on Desktop.

smart display

What does it do?

The Smart Display runs on Qualcomm’s 624 Home Hub platform, which is the faster of its two architectures for Android Things devices. While the Qualcomm 212 platform works well for things like smart speakers and low-power smart home accessories, the 624 Home Hub platform is better suited for the Smart Display UI. It helps to process Google Assistant requests both audio visually.

How is the Smart Display different

THe main question here is how is it different or better than the existing solutions like Amazon Alexa, or Echo? SImple tests of performance have yielded different results in favor of the SMart Display UI. A search on Alexa makes it search the internet and read out the first few answers. This can be interpreted as a question answer based smart system. Whereas the Smart Display UI doesn’t just bring up a relevant graphical display, it displays some relevant links and the most important aspect of your search on the screen. This is significantly faster than others. The reason being the powerful Google AI behind the system.

From Android to Fuchsia

The smart display UI and the already successful launch of chrome OS has triggered discussions around the possible replacement of Android with the Futuristic Fuchsia. The discussion is centered around Google’s intentions of creating a mobile OS that will have a formalized update cycle. An OS which won’t have different versions running across different devices. Chrome OS seems to be the first step, which runs on the same Linux kernel as Android. While the recent developments related to Fuchsia are still under the wraps, Google might want to finally use Android as a runtime on Fuchsia. This can be a difficult task to perform, but it is a better option than running two kernels in the overhead, one for Android and the other for Fuchsia.

The signs that show that this smart display UI is a way to test waters for Fuchsia are plenty.

  • The smart display UI is completely based on the Google Smart Assistant, which will be the core of Fuchsia.
  • It doesn’t have a home button or an app menu button. You can navigate and search using voice command. Voice command is also at the heart of Fuchsia. Rather than swiping on screen, you will be able to navigate and search with voice command.
  • Android P, next in line for release, is also moving towards a similar UI. Android P will display your apps as cards and will promote them to the system level and avoid a complete launch. This will help in reducing system overhead and stop apps from running perpetually.

From all these indicators, it seems to be a natural progression for this smart display UI system to become the face of the Fuchsia operating system. The challenge will be in migrating the present Android phones to Fuchsia. Since Android is currently written in Java and bundled in a JVM bubble to cater to the android system, developers believe that it wouldn’t be a difficult task to create such an intermediate layer for Fuchsia which is written in Dart.

The shift however seems a bit far fetched for now. Some discussions on reddit suggest it might be as as late as 2022.  But the drive for this change is pretty clear,

  • The need to have a uniform OS across all devices
  • The independence of the OS performance on system resources
  • Taking backend operations to the cloud
  • Making the UI voice controlled and reducing the touchscreen for a mere visual tool.

We can only hope that Fuchsia can solve the problems for the users that Android couldn’t. Uniform mobile computing platform can be a good start, and Fuchsia seems to be the perfect successor to carry forward the legacy of Android and its huge fan base.

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