There's no shortage of ways to activate the Google Assistant on your phone, including launching the app or using the "Hey Google" hotword, but now it looks like Google is testing another way for you to call up the Assistant.
A beta version of the Google app version 11.21 hints at a new Google Assistant Chat Head. The folks at 9to5Google found two new strings of code that hint at the feature:
<string name=”opa_chat_head_dismiss_content_description”>Assistant Chat Head dismissal area</string>
<string name=”opa_chat_head_tutorial”>”Tap to talk to your Assistant.\nDrag to move or dismiss.”</string>
They also enabled the Google Assistant Chat Head to get a preview of it. The feature works much like you'd expect from a Facebook Messenger Chat Head, giving you a small bubble that you can move around the screen. Tapping the Chat Head will activate an Assistant panel at the bottom of your screen, and you can drag the Chat Head to the bottom of your screen to dismiss it.
Because this Google Assistant Chat Head is still early, a lot of the feature is unknown, like exactly how you'd activate it. Android 11 has a feature called Bubbles that let you put a chat head anywhere on your screen, but those are activated using a button in the lower right of a notification, and the Google Assistant doesn't normally generate a notification.
It might seem kind of strange to see Google working on yet another way to activate the Assistant, but this feature could be useful in some scenarios. For example, you could use it to call up the Assistant repeatedly while you're also getting information in another app, which could let you get to the Assistant more quickly than using the "Hey Google" hotword or another summon method.
This feature is clearly still being worked on by Google, and so it's unclear when it might be released to the public or if it'll even see the light of day. Stay tuned for more on this as it happens.