New phones from manufacturers like LG, Nokia, Xiaomi, TCL and Vivo will have dedicated buttons for the Google Assistant, Google confirmed at the Mobile World Congress 2019.
Google Assistant, which traditionally lived under Home Button on Android phones, can now be accessed via a dedicated hardware button –just like what Samsung has for its Bixby assistant. Google expects at least 100 million phones to soon offer this feature.
With a dedicated button, there is every possibility that Google will add a bunch of new features to the Android software. With that said, Google has already brought up some Assistant features to the button – that were earlier a few taps away. A single tap on the button will bring up the Assistant and a double tap will bring up the Assistant’s visual snapshot feature to provide you with Updates – an overview of your day. A long press would activate a “walkie-talkie” feature in which the Google Assistant will keep listening to you as long as you are holding the button down. This mode is ideal for transcribing long text messages and emails.
"We're trying to make the Assistant feel like it's really a part of the phone, instead of just some app you go to," Scott Huffman, head of engineering for the Assistant, said in an interview.
You can expect upcoming phones like LG’s G8 ThinQ and K40; Nokia’s 3.2 and 4.2, and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 5G and Mi 9 to include the dedicated Assistant buttons. Also, new phones by TCL and Vivo, including the V15 Pro, will add the hardware shortcut for Assistant, Google said.
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