Google Assistant is testing a floating Chat Head bubble
Android 11 is coming soon and one of the big new features is “Bubbles.” The API for these floating Bubbles has been around since Android 10, though they’re now available for all users and developers without toggling a developer option. Google is also testing a similar Chat Head-like bubble for Google Assistant.
“Chat Heads” is a feature that first gained prominence when Facebook’s Messenger app introduced them many years ago. Notification Bubbles are the same concept. Your conversations can float on top of whatever you’re doing for quick access. We imagine that’s the same idea behind the Google Assistant bubble. Users won’t need to press a hardware button or perform a gesture to bring up the Assistant. It’s always right there on the screen.
According to an APK teardown performed by 9to5Google, Google app 11.21 includes two strings that describe the functionality. There is a tutorial that details how you can “Tap to talk to your Assistant.” Another string mentions how you can drag the bubble to the bottom of the screen to dismiss it, and this string refers to the feature as an “Assistant Chat Head.”
Currently, the functionality is extremely basic. Tapping the floating bubble, which is simply the Google Assistant icon, brings up the Assistant panel from the bottom of the screen. The bubble can be dragged to any edge. We’re not sure if there will be a new UI to go along with the bubble when this feature is made official, though. It’s also not clear at this time how to open the Assistant Chat Head.
Is this a feature you would use? It seems redundant with all the other ways to launch Google Assistant, but not every device has the same options. This is yet another way Google can make sure people have easy access to the Assistant.