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New compact Google Assistant inspired by Pixel 4 starts rolling out to older phones

In addition to the speed improvements and expanded capabilities found on the Pixel 4, the “new Google Assistant” makes important design changes. Some of those visual elements are now making their way to other devices in the form of an even more compact Google Assistant.

While the transparent overlay after launching is the flashiest aspect of the new Assistant, an equally important design tweak is how visual responses no longer take up the entire display. Following your command being heard, the current Assistant expands fullscreen.

The compact Google Assistant beginning to roll out today for some users only takes up as much space as needed to display the answer. Results to simple questions consume just the bottom third, playing music might be a half panel, and the weather two-thirds. This is in sharp contrast to all those commands filling the entire screen previously.

New compact Google Assistant

This compact Assistant also has a shorter panel — but not the Pixel 4’s transparent look — after being invoked by “Hey Google” or Active Edge. The Assistant icon is in the top-left corner followed by “Hi, how can I help?” right next to it. Your profile avatar is to the right and always visible.

The line immediately below has the same shortcuts for “What’s on my screen?” or “Share screenshot.” Unlike the new Google Assistant, this revamp still takes advantage of the old pill to launch Lens, voice, and the keyboard. You can also still swipe up to access the Updates feed. The UI for manual text entry is also shortened and keeps your background in view.

As we noted in our full review of Assistant on the Pixel 4, this is a big deal:

This much-improved preservation of context and subtlety reveals how Google wants you to interact with Assistant. In the past, voice was an experience that took up the entire display and often brought you to a scrollable feed. The new Assistant on the Pixel 4 is now more akin to Google’s proclaimed ambient computing future where interacting with help should occur without a forethought of disrupting your life.

There are so far only a handful of reports from Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL owners encountering this design after installing the latest Google app beta. A/B testing for this new compact Google Assistant began in July.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: