The Bixby button, more than Bixby itself, might be the most reviled Samsung invention of late but the manufacturer might have been on to something. It didn’t take long for other companies like LG and some Chinese OEMs to put their own physical button to call this or that AI assistant. Turns out, Google has also found some wisdom in that idea and is working with hardware partners to put dedicated Google Assistant buttons on this year’s generation of phones.
A Google Assistant button isn’t exactly new. Both LG and HTC have put one in their recent phones, though HTC, of course, used its Edge Sense squeeze for that. Right at the start of MWC 2019, new phones like the LG G8 ThinQ and LG K40 and the Nokia 3.2 and 4.2 sport that hardware. Later this year, phones from Xiaomi, TCL, and Vivo will also follow suit.
That may or may not sit well with some consumers, depending on how the manufacturers implement the functionality. What made the Bixby button almost universally hated was the fact that Samsung blocked any attempt to map the button to something more useful than Bixby. Google Assistant may be arguably more useful but some might not want even that. Hopefully, OEMs have seen Samsung’s errors and won’t make the same mistake.
While Google itself didn’t have anything to announce at MWC, it did want everyone to know that it is behind all the advancements in the market. Be it foldable phones or 5G support, Android is there leading the way and enabling OEMs to deliver these technologies to consumers. And it isn’t just for the premium products either. Google proudly reveals that Android One and Android Go have grown substantially over the years, with Android One growing 250% year over year and Android Go powering half of the entry-level phones in the market.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there and Google still has a lot more to push to users via its partners. RCS or the Rich Communication Services still hasn’t displaced SMS and Google’s own Digital Wellbeing app and framework is still slowly making its way to other phones. The latter will be expanding to the new Moto G7 series though Google says it’s working with other manufacturers to bring it to more phones.