With Android 11, Google is going all-in with Bubbles, a way to “let users easily multi-task from anywhere on their device.” They are primarily used for messaging notifications and quick access to conversation threads, but the latest Google app beta today reveals work on an “Assistant Chat Head.”

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

As of Google app 11.21, two strings have been added describing the functionality. A “tutorial” details how you can “Tap to talk to your Assistant.” Our next insight into the “Assistant Chat Head” — and where we are currently deriving the name from — is a string about how you can drag the Bubble to the bottom of the screen to dismiss. This is standard and how all chat heads work. 

<string name=”opa_chat_head_dismiss_content_description”>Assistant Chat Head dismissal area</string>

<string name=”opa_chat_head_tutorial”>”Tap to talk to your Assistant.\nDrag to move or dismiss.”</string>

With version 11.21 of the Google app beta, we enabled an early look at the Assistant Chat Head. It’s the current logo against a white background. At the moment, tapping just launches the current Assistant panel at the bottom of the screen. It’s not clear if this is the intended experience, but one would assume that there would be a more optimized UI that takes up most of the screen.

It’s not clear how you launch the Assistant Chat Head as Bubbles in Android 11 are launched from the bottom-right corner of notifications, and Assistant usually does not generate an alert.

While not a conversation in the traditional sense, using a chat head for Google Assistant is not too far off from the current messaging use for Bubbles. You are talking to the Assistant and getting back responses that you often ask follow-ups to. 

It could be useful when you’re actively engaging with Assistant but need to frequently check back on apps. For example, a user might need to keep reading new messages in Slack or Gmail before being able to schedule a reminder via Assistant.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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