Lenovo points finger at Google over broken smart displays

Lenovo Smart Display
(Image credit: Future)

Some owners of the Lenovo Smart Display and Lenovo Smart Clock have been left with blank screens after a “firmware issue” caused their devices to malfunction almost five months ago.

As reported by The Register, back in April reports began to emerge that some owners of the company's smart home devices were experiencing frozen screens. Since rebooting Lenovo's Smart Display and Smart Clock or reverting the devices back to factory settings only offered a temporary fix, users took to the company's support forum to voice their concerns.

Although the scope and scale of the problem remains unknown, sales data from Canalys shows that Lenovo has shipped around 1.2m Smart Clocks and an estimated 650k Smart Displays.

A reader of The Register reached out to the news outlet to provide further details on the issues they've been experiencing, saying:

“We've explained countless times to them [Lenovo] before that the screen freezes shortly after powering on (often in a matter of minutes, sometimes a couple of hours) and you are unable to interact with the device. The device gets rebooted, it works fine and then it freezes again.”

Shifting the blame to Google

According to Lenovo's Smart Home community lead Zuzana who asked the company's customers to have more patience in a forum post, Lenovo has been working with Google on a fix since June. However, customers are growing increasingly upset with the lack of progress from Lenovo and this has led to additional frustration.

In a statement to The Register, a Lenovo Spokesperson explained that Google is responsible for deploying software updates to both its Smart Displays and Smart Clocks, saying:

"Software updates are deployed by Google for Lenovo Smart Displays & Smart Clocks with the Google Assistant. The Google product/engineering team is working on replicating the firmware issues identified by some users so they can in turn issue a fix. For more details, you can contact Google directly."

While Google's own Nest Hub was originally powered by a Linux-based OS and then later Fuchsia, Lenovo's Smart Displays run on Android Things which was closed off to new projects from January of this year.

We'll have to wait and see if Google's engineers are able to come up with a fix but even if they do, it may be too late to pacify disgruntled Lenovo smart device customers.

Via The Register

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.