In recent months, Android’s Messages app quietly lost its Google Assistant integration. However, Google Messages might be replacing that functionality with something called “Spotlights.”

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.

In Messages, this feature offered contextual suggestions for restaurants, movies, and more based on your current conversation. Tapping the suggestion chip would launch Assistant.

You could also access Google Assistant by tapping the Attach ‘plus’ button at the left to bring up weather, restaurants, and movies. 

The inline conversation suggestions and the trio of Assistant buttons are now gone. Additionally, Messages Settings > Suggestions has removed any mention of “Assistant suggestions.” This includes the example and toggle, while support documents for the feature have been similarly scrubbed of any Assistant mention. That Google Support removal occurred sometime after September of 2022. 

Speaking of the Suggestion menu, we’ve spotted a redesign (at the very right above) that removes the example carousels for just descriptions.

To replace some of the Assistant functionality, Messages is working on a feature called “Spotlights” to “get instant info & convenient actions from Google Apps.” Using your location, it can “display local results.”

From the accompanying animation, it appears that Messages will highlight/underline places in chats and let you tap to see more information from Google Search/Maps. This pop-up will let you quickly get directions, call, see the menu/ratings, and order food directly. 

It’s not yet clear what other capabilities will be offered by Spotlights. Assistant being removed from Messages continues a pattern that sees the voice assistant reduce its reach. Meanwhile, Assistant was originally part of Allo before coming to Messages. The legacy of that previous chat app continues to dwindle.

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

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

Thanks, Michael B

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Abner Li

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