Lenovo Smart Tab range has ambient display crippled ‘by Google App’
Lenovo Smart Tab users are awaiting a fix for one of the range’s unique features after a Google app update crippled it. The Smart Tab series is a range of tablets which, when docked in their charging stand, use Android’s Ambient Display to double up as a Google Assistant client similar to Google Nest Hub, with far-field microphones to allow voice commands when docked.
Reports began to surface on the Lenovo forums earlier this summer as users complained that despite the correct settings, their screens were simply turning blank when docked. We’ve tested it on our Lenovo M8 Smart Tab and sure enough, there’s no ambient mode to be found.
There are countless threads in the product forum all complaining about this one issue. At one point, it was suggested that a fix had been found, but it proved not to work either. It has been confirmed that it affects both the 8-inch and 10-inch versions.
The most recent response from the forum administrators suggests that the issue is with the Google App and specifically Ambient Mode, rather than the tablet hardware and that a bug report is open at Google’s end as well as Lenovo’s. There is no indication of exactly what the cause is, nor a timeline for resolution.
We’ve checked the upgrade path for these devices and it does appear that an Android 10 upgrade for these devices is due to land just before Christmas, which may also contain a fix, given that Android 9 device compatibility is becoming increasingly a legacy issue. The frustration being felt by users stems from the fact that this range was advertised around its dual-functionality. Without that, it’s essentially a competent mid-range tablet running Android 9 – not the product that was advertised. As with any new feature, there’s always the risk of problems, but when you hang your hat on that feature for a range of products, it doesn’t exactly look good.
We’ve asked Lenovo for any further updates but had no response at the time of going to press.