Last year's LG G7 had a dedicated hardware button to invoke Google Assistant, and Google is now aiming to expand the feature to a portfolio of Android devices from the likes of LG, Nokia, Xiaomi, Vivo, and TCL.
The LG G8 also has a dedicated button for Google Assistant, as does the Xiaomi Mi 9 and Mi Mix 3 5G, Nokia's latest budget phones — the Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 — as well as the Vivo V15 Pro and upcoming phones from TCL.
The goal is to make Google Assistant more accessible, with Google noting that the partnership with phone makers will result in 100 million devices with a dedicated button for the voice assistant. The broad range of hardware should listed above should go some way in hitting that goal.
The dedicated button will let you rattle off a quick Google Assistant voice search with a single tap, with a double tap launching visual snapshot — which serves up relevant information based on time of day. A long press opens a walkie-talkie-like feature that keeps Assistant listening for things like long voice transcriptions or just long rambling questions.
Google is hyped about all this. Its new partnerships with more and more companies will mean a dedicated Assistant button on an expected 100 million phones in 2019. If successful, we expect this will only be the beginning and phone makers will be just as hyped to get a hot button added to their own devices. And yes, this means a physical button will probably replace the fiddly squeezable active edge on the next Pixel. At least, one can only hope.
Whether you love or hate a button that triggers your preferred assistant, it looks like one may be coming to your next phone. Will it receive the less-than-lukewarm welcome that Samsung's Bixby button has seen or be embraced with open arms? That's anyone's guess, but Google is banking on it being a big plus for new buyers.
What are your thoughts on a dedicated button for Google Assistant?
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.