Google is gearing up for cross-platform timers while iPhones can barely handle one

Teardown notes that Pixels may see timers starting on Assistant smart displays and speakers

According to a recent teardown, Google is working on a feature that would allow Pixels (or possibly other devices persuaded to use the Pixel’s version of the At a Glance widget) to show timers running on other smart displays or speakers from Assistant have been started. This Cross Device Timer, as Strings for the function calls it, sounds like you could start a timer on, say, your Nest Hub in the kitchen and track its progress from your Pixel phone when you’re picking up an errand.

As with all unannounced features that come out of an app teardown, this is just a sign that Google is To work to a feature and no evidence that it will occur or occur in the condition described. However, details in a 9to5Google teardown of a v13.26 beta of the Google app reveal two strings for a “Cross Device Timer” function that claims to display “timer information from your home devices.” The context of these two strings is paired with an icon showing a speaker in front of a display. With all that said, it’s easy to make a connection that suggests these “home devices” that the feature can pull timer details from are likely Assistant-connected displays and speakers – think Nest Hubs, Audios and Minis as well as possibly other third-party Assistant speakers and displays like Lenovo’s Smart Displays.

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A snippet of the function’s associated symbol.

It’s unclear how many timers this feature might show, or if other details related to it are visible. For example, if you set a timer on your Nest Hub, you can give it a name – handy if you’re doing something complicated, like reading a book. B. Cooking a few different things for a big dinner, each with their own timed actions. It’s also not clear if you can see which device the timer was synced from, or if and how you can react to those timers in other ways, e.g. B. by closing them or renewing them so that they are synchronized again.

Google’s At a Glance widget is built in and part of the standard software experience on Pixels, available in the standard launcher and lock screen. The widget can show details like upcoming calendar events, weather, doorbell notifications, and more, depending on what’s happening. You can add a more limited version of At a Glance as a regular widget to most other devices thanks to the Google app itself. However, this version of the widget available to customers on other phones is more limited as it doesn’t even have the existing integration for timers on the device. I suspect that if and when this cross-device timer sync feature debuts, it will be pixel-specific and possibly planned for a future feature drop.


For customers with Assistant-connected speakers and displays, this functionality is long-awaited. More than one of us at Android Police has expressed excitement at the prospect, noting with more than a little humor that (some) Android phones will get cross-platform timers before iPhones can even run more than one at once – a caveat on iOS this remains confusing and embarrassing when the Apple Watch, HomePod and most Android devices can handle such a simple task without a hitch.

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