A new beta of the Google app for Android is rolling out to testers and it has a lot of interesting, if inactive code built into it. If you want to read a full teardown of the APK, the team over at 9to5 Google have a great writeup on it. I’m focusing on the code around a physical Google Assistant button.
The code in the APK points to the ability to have a physical button for Assistant, much like the physical button you find on the Google Pixelbook today. While this button isn’t aimed at phones per se, it is aimed at Android and coincides nicely with code found last week in a commit in Chrome OS. That code suggested that a physical button could be remapped for Google Assistant. Put together, these code snippets indicate just how far Google wants to take Assistant on both platforms.
While the code found in the Android version of the Google app may not specifically be aimed at phone devices, it is important to keep in mind that other form factors running Android are coming into the market. Tablets are still there but foldable displays and other non-traditional designs are rumored at least to be coming this year. That means Android, much like Chrome OS, has to be me more adaptive to form factors where, potentially at least, a physical button may be involved.
Perhaps more realistic and “low hanging fruit” of sorts is that the code in both the Google app as well as Chrome OS are meant to work with each other. Meaning that while you are using an Android app on your Chromebook, you could press a mapped button on your Chromebook that would allow it to fire up Google Assistant within that Android app. It is a little far fetched, admittedly, but not that far fetched.
The bottom line in this new code snippet in the Google app is that it fits with what Google has already stated: Google Assistant everywhere on any device. 2018 is going to be an exciting year to watch how this plays out on both Android and Chrome OS.