[Hands On] Google Dialer’s Floating Bubble Goes Live in v17 with a Fresh Coat of Paint
The Google Dialer, for folks who aren’t familiar, is a customized version of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) phone app with a few extra features. Compatible Nexus and Pixel devices get Google Duo video call integration, real-time spam protection, caller ID, call blocking, visual voicemail (with transcription support on some carriers), and a local directory feature that shows search results for phone numbers that aren’t in your contact list. Especially nifty is a floating button that lets you mute your phone’s microphone, end calls, and toggle speakerphone while you’re in another app, but the feature was hidden from view by default—until now.
We’ve written about how to enable this in-development feature in the past, but Google Dialer was just updated to version 17, which not only brings the feature out into the open, but also adds an improved floating bubble UI. The most obvious difference is the design: the old, bright blue Material Design-inspired bubble expanded horizontally to reveal mute, end call, and speakerphone icon shortcuts has been replaced with a new gray menu that expands vertically and adds text labels that make it clearer what each shortcut does. You won’t find anything in the way of new functionality, but it’s a much more polished look.
You can try the new floating dialer bubble right now in the latest version of the dialer app, version 17. It’s activated when you press the home button in the middle of a phone call—kind of like picture-in-picture mode, or Facebook’s Messenger’s Chat Heads. It requires the “draw over other apps” permission in order to function, but that should be enabled by default. (Fortunately, that means if you don’t like the feature, all you have to do is revoke this permission and you won’t see the floating bubble anymore!)
The app is only accessible for users of the Google Nexus and Pixel phones by default. That includes the Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. Some Android One devices may also have access to it as well. As an alternative, you can install the latest version of the app via a Magisk Module to get the floating bubble menu.
But what about those of you without one of the aforementioned devices, and what if you don’t have root access? XDA Member Martin.077 regularly posts patched versions of the latest Google Dialer app for unsupported devices. Not every feature works flawlessly—you won’t get spam caller ID or a local phone directory, for example—but the floating bubble is present and accounted for. At the time of this article’s publication, his version hasn’t been updated to the latest (v17) with the redesigned floating bubble. However, we’re sure that will change soon enough.
You can follow the steps below to download his modded app and enable the floating bubble menu.
Download and install the latest modified Google Phone (v16.0.183307769) app from this XDA forums thread. You’ll have to allow app installs from unknown sources by heading to Settings > Security and toggling Unknown sources, if you haven’t already.
Allow the modified Google Dialer the permission to Draw over other apps by opening Settings > Apps, tapping on the gear icon in the top-right corner, scrolling down to the Google Dialer and selecting it, and switching on Permit drawing over other apps.
That’s it! After you place a call and navigate away from the in-call screen, you should see the Google Dialer’s floating bubble.
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