The Google Assistant already supports quite a few triggers on Android phones. You can summon it by saying the “OK Google” or “Hey Google” wake words, long-pressing the home button, or swiping in from the bottom corners if you’re using full-screen gestures. Some Google Pixel devices also let you squeeze the sides to trigger the Assistant, while a few phones from Nokia and LG feature a dedicated Assistant button. In Android 12, Google will also introduce a double-tap back gesture to summon the Assistant and an additional power button trigger. While the double-tap back gesture may not roll out to all phones with the Android 12 release later this year, the new power button Assistant trigger may reach devices sooner than expected.
A teardown of the latest Google App release (184.108.40.206) has revealed new strings, which suggest that Google has started work on adding the new power button Assistant trigger to the app. As you can see in the strings mentioned below, the new trigger will let you summon the Assistant by long-pressing the power button. Several Chinese OEMs already offer this gesture on their custom Android skins, and it’s great to see Google finally building it right into the Google app.
<string name="assistant_android_settings_long_press_power_summary">To talk to your Assistant, touch and hold power button, then release</string> <string name="assistant_android_settings_long_press_power_title">Long press power for the Assistant</string>
Once the gesture rolls out with a future Google App update, you should be able to turn it on by navigating to the Assistant settings on your phone. On Android 12 devices, the new option should appear within the Apps section in the Settings app. While on devices running Android 11 or below, the option will show up in the Apps & Notification section of the Settings app.
XDA’s Mishaal Rahman managed to find this new option on his Pixel 3 XL running Android 12 DP3 by searching for it in the Settings app. However, he wasn’t able to enable it as the “Assistant” settings page kept crashing. The setting didn’t show up on a Pixel 4 running Android 11, though.
Along with the new power button Assistant trigger, the teardown unearthed strings related to another in-development feature. As you can see in the strings mentioned below, this new feature will make it easier for you to authorize payments while your phone is connected to Android Auto or when it’s unlocked. The feature will essentially let you bypass the password or security code for payments while your phone is connected to Android Auto or when it’s unlocked.
<string name="assistant_settings_payments_enabled_android_auto_hands_free_description">Skip entering your password or security code when your phone is connected to Android Auto.</string> <string name="assistant_settings_payments_enabled_android_auto_hands_free_title">Pay through Android Auto</string> <string name="assistant_settings_payments_enabled_unlocked_device_hands_free_description">"Skip entering your password or security code when your phone is unlocked. Anyone with your phone might pay on your behalf, so it's a good idea to keep your phone locked if you choose this option."</string> <string name="assistant_settings_payments_enabled_unlocked_device_hands_free_title">Pay when unblocked</string>
The strings also mention a significant caveat of using this new feature. Since it will bypass the password or security code, anyone with access to your phone while it’s unlocked or connected to Android Auto will be able to make payments without requiring any authentication. So it may not be a good idea to enable it if you leave your phone unattended often.
Both the features mentioned above are currently in development, and they’re not live in the latest Google App beta release. We’ll let you know as soon as they start rolling out on the stable channel.