Google App Removes Legacy Voice Search on Android, Leaving Only Google Assistant
Google Assistant has cemented its place in the Google mobile app with the upcoming release of the latest version of the app. The new Google app scraps the longstanding voice search option in favor of the standard Google Assistant interface for Android
Voice Search Revamp
The Google mobile app has, for a few years, offered search capabilities and commands for phone commands like making calls and setting alarms operated within the Google app. The voice search and command system relies on “OK Google” as the wake word. In August, that voice search feature was replaced with Google Assistant on the Android and iOS versions of the Google app. The same microphone icon and interface remained, however, despite having Google Assistant running behind the scenes.
Version 11.3 of the Google app on Android, which is still in beta, gets rid of the fullscreen voice search with Google Assistant’s colorful dots. It now fits Android’s style more closely, with just a Google logo, microphone and an indication that the voice assistant is listening and that audio is processed by Google in the cloud. The way the app looks doesn’t change how the app works and what it can do, but it does make for a different experience. Google hasn’t said when version 11.3 of the Google app will become publicly available, but it will likely happen soon after the beta test is complete.
Google Speaking Up
Google has been stepping up its goal of unifying the voice AI within its various products this year, with an eye toward Google Assistant as the central pillar. For instance, Google Assistant became part of the Google mobile app and Pixel launcher last year. In January, Google Chrome began testing a “quick answers” feature that uses Google Assistant to retrieve information about any selected text on a website. Those tests began not long after reports came out that Google Assistant will replace the Chrome browser voice search feature at some point this year.
It isn’t just Google that understands the value of searching for things by voice. Mozilla Firefox began testing a web browser-based voice assistant at the beginning of the year. And voice assistant rivals Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri regularly roll out improvements to their search capabilities. That said, Google is a byword for online searching for a reason and it could leverage that with voice tech as well. Even beyond Android smartphones, people are much more likely to download a Google search app on an iPhone than they are to add Siri to an Android phone as a tool for looking things up online.