Described as a more proactive Assistant experience, Google Assistant’s Ambient Mode turns your smartphone into something akin to the Google Nest Hub when charging. Google Assistant uses all its smarts to provide you with information it thinks you’ll find useful depending on the time of day, whether that’s an incoming notification, weather update or a reminder alert you’d set a few days earlier.

It goes a step further, transforming your phone into a digital photo frame using photos from your Gallery -  if you want, anyway. And what would a Google Assistant-powered interface be without a way to control your smart home tech? The Ambient Mode allows one-tap access to smart home controls, be it turning off the bedroom light or accessing your home security camera system.

While it’s not available on all Android smartphones, the list of supported devices is constantly growing. Here, we show you how to enable Ambient Mode on your Android smartphone.

How to enable Ambient Mode on Android

Now you know what Ambient Mode is, the next step is to enable it on your smartphone. The issue is that, like much of the Android ecosystem, the support is fragmented and only a handful of smartphones offer the functionality right now. These include the Google Pixel range, quite obviously, along with select Nokia and Xiaomi devices and, most recently, all OnePlus devices from the OnePlus 3 onwards.  

If you’re a OnePlus owner, chances are you’ll have seen a notification appear when you’ve recently plugged your phone in to charge, letting you know that Ambient Mode is now available. You can tap that to access the setup menu, but if you haven’t got the notification, you can also follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Google app (it should be preinstalled on most, if not all Androids with Google Play).
  2. Tap More > Settings > Google Assistant.
  3. Select the Assistant tab, and tap Phone.
  4. Scroll down to the Personalisation section and toggle on Ambient Mode to set up the feature.

If you can’t see an option for Ambient Mode, the feature is either unavailable for your phone, or it’s yet to receive the update – the latter may well be the case for OnePlus owners, as the company has confirmed that it’s slowly rolling out and is only available on one of three OnePlus devices we have at Tech Advisor offices at the time of writing.

Once you’ve enabled Ambient Mode, simply follow the on-screen to personalise your Ambient Mode experience (decide whether to display photos from your gallery, notifications, etc). Once the setup is complete, Ambient Mode should automatically be activated the next time your smartphone is locked and on charge.

Will you get a lot of use out of Google Assistant’s Ambient Mode? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter. Maybe you don't like it at all - if so, we show you how to turn off Assistant, either permanently or temporarily.

And if you're in the mood for a laugh, take a look at the funniest things to ask Google Assistant