Android 11 is coming soon and one of the big new features is “Bubbles.” These floating Bubbles for conversations have been around since Android Q Beta 2, but they’re getting more prominent in Android 11. Google is also testing a similar Chat Head-like bubble for Google Assistant.
“Chat Heads” is a feature from Facebook Messenger that has been around for a very long time. 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 “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. 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 those. This is yet another way Google can make sure people have easy access to the Assistant.