Android 12 leak just revealed big Google Assistant upgrade

Google Assistant
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If you find yourself calling out "OK, Google" too often around your Android phone, you may soon have another way to trigger Google Assistant without having to speak to its name. Android 12 code indicates that Google is working on ways to launch the built-in digital assistant without speaking at all.

That’s according to XDA-Developers, which has been digging around the code for  upcoming Google releases.Android 12 is expected to add a double-tap back gesture that triggers Google Assistant. Additionally, a power button trigger may be in the works. This marks the second time in the last few weeks we've heard that new Google Assistant triggers are coming.

These features aren’t necessarily new, as some phones already support those capabilities (mostly from Chinese phone makers, XDA-Developers points out). But their presence in Android 12 means that they’ll be baked into the next version of Android. They’ll join previous methods for wordlessly invoking the Google Assistant, such as squeezing the sides of your phone (a feature Google dropped from its own devices).

XDA-Developers discovery came from code found in a teardown of the newest Google App release. A series of new strings reveals that Google is hard at work on implementing the new power button trigger to the app, which will let you bring out the Assistant with a simple long press of the power button. It won't be coming to every single phone with Android 12 on board later this year, but it will likely roll out to most devices on a fairly swift basis. 

When the new trigger is available, you’ll likely be able to turn it on via the Assistant settings on your phone.

It's important to understand that this new option is still very much in development, but that hasn't kept Google from going ahead and getting out ahead of it so that it’s ready for users to try out when it’s complete. There hasn’t been a concrete announcement just yet, but if it’s already in a testing phase like this one, we should be seeing it rolling out in the near future soon enough. 

Android 12 is currently in development at Google, with app makers available to download a developers version to get used to the new features. We’re expecting a full-scale Android 12 preview next week at Google I/O, the annual developers conference, which is streaming online this year.

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.