In October of 2020, one Nest Hub Max user managed to get an early look at “Blue Steel.” This capability lets you just gaze at your compatible Smart Display to trigger Google Assistant, and a launch under the name “Look and Talk” might be coming soon.

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

The latest Google app beta (13.14) details the capability in full, starting with how it’s now referred to as “Look and Talk.” The “Blue Steel” codename is a reference to Zoolander, where Ben Stiller’s character has an iconic look. 

Google explains that you can “look at the display from up to 5ft away to talk to Google” without having to say the hotword. The necessary processing occurs locally on-device and video is not sent to the cloud.

How it works: Your device relies on camera sensing and analyzes your video to determine if you want to activate your Assistant. Assistant may activate when you didn’t intend it to, if it incorrectly detects you want its help. Your video is processed on-device and isn’t sent to Google servers.

At the moment, the Nest Hub Max is the only device in Google’s lineup to feature a camera. Besides video calling, it’s used today for the quick gesture where people hold up their palm to the lens to pause/resume media, dismiss timers/alarms, and stop Assistant from talking.

Google adds that “Assistant also uses Face Match and Voice Match so Look and Talk will work just for you.”

If others want to use Look and Talk, they can set it up in their Home app or Assistant app settings. You can turn this feature off at any time in your Face Match settings.

With the strings now featuring the final product name, a feature launch could be coming sooner than later. It follows our report that Google is working on a new detachable Nest Hub that could feature Tap to Transfer, while a new UI is being rolled out. More than a few things are lining up for a bigger product launch, though Look and Talk will presumably also work on the existing Hub Max.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com