Google Testing New, Functional Design For Google Assistant

Rick Osterloh discusses new devices during the Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View
Rick Osterloh, senior vice president for hardware at Google, discusses new devices during the Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 7, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Paresh Dave)

Earlier in May, Google held a developer conference wherein it showed off a new and improved Google Assistant set to release later this year. However, keen-eyed fans have already noticed some dramatic changes in the design of the company's virtual assistant.

Several Reddit users reported that Google Assistant now sports a transparent overlay that makes the bottom area of the display seem darker. The bottom right option will take you to the keyboard, and the bottom left brings a snapshot of your day. Give a command, and Google Assistant will pop into the current full interface.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the new design is the four-color light bar that appears at the bottom of the screen. It's a reminiscent of the original Chromebook Pixel and Chromebook Pixel 2, both sporting a light bar on their lids. The light bar also worked as a battery indicator on the two Chromebooks when you close the lid.

If you have a Redmi Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, or a Pixel smartphone, you may already have the new design. Some folks got the new design to run on a OnePlus smartphone.

It's safe to assume that what's happening is likely a limited A/B test conducted by Google, so if you don't see the new design on your smartphone, don't fret.

The testing seems in no way related to the "next generation Assistant," Google revealed at the I/O last week. This upgrade is said to make everything 10x faster.

In its current form, Google Assistant needs as much as 100GB of data in order to process and understand your commands, but Google's new work has managed to bring that model down to just 0.5GB. This makes it easier to integrate on a smartphone, enabling some crazy functionality.

According to Google, the "next generation Assistant" is capable of processing real-time requests and can answer your questions 10 times faster than its current form. You can even use it without a network connection.

As it can run locally on smartphones, it enabled Google to design an upgraded Assistant that can process speech on-device at "nearly zero latency." Transcription is expected to happen in real-time as well. Clearly, a lot of exciting things are happening for Google this year.

Google says the improved Assistant will debut later this year on the "next Pixel phones." This gives us one more reason to watch out for the Pixel 4.

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