In July of last year, we spotted development of an “Assistant Chat Head” that never ended up launching. Google is now working on a more useful “Search bubble” chat head that provides quick access to text and voice lookup.

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 case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Google app 12.44, currently in beta, features work on a “bubble to access Google Search anytime.” It docks to the left or right edge of your screen, while it turns pill-shaped when being dragged. There’s a four-colored magnifying glass icon and a microphone. The former is for text input, while the latter takes you to the non-Assistant voice search experience that supports music queries. As a chat head, it can exist over any app, not just your homescreen.

The design is less visually disruptive than a traditional, round chat head. It’s similar to how you can hide most of a picture-in-picture window on Android 12 today. 

At launch, Google will detail its availability with a prompt: “Yes, keep it” or “Remove.” Dragging also presents two options at the bottom of the screen: “Hide bubble temporarily” or “Turn off this feature,” which is similar to the floating live scores pill for sports. 

Given the introductory text, this Google Search feature is closer to rolling out than last year’s Assistant chat head. Overall, it’s more useful and a nice tool when you’re deep in research across multiple applications.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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