While 5G is all the rage at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC), with Huawei, LG, and Xiaomi having announced their respective bets for the next-gen connectivity standard, one feature doesn't seem to be getting as much attention. Almost all of the phones unveiled on the show floor have a dedicated Google Assistant button.
And it's just the beginning of a wider rollout of that physical key. Google has revealed today that it will work with several partners to bring the Assistant button to more than 100 million mobile devices this year. The company started developing support for the physical Assistant button early last year. Already, it has been squeezed into the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G edition, LG G8 ThinQ and K40, and the Nokia 3.2 and 4.2, all announced at MWC 2019.
Once pressed, the dedicated button will, of course, alert the digital assistant to listen to the user's voice commands. As Samsung seems to have recently realized, confining its functionality to summoning a virtual assistant alone doesn't sit well with some users. Consequently, the South Korean giant expanded the Bixby button's capability in order to allow consumers to change it into something more useful to them. It's not clear, though, whether Google is keen on adopting this configuration.
Besides Assistant, the search giant has also vowed to continue rolling out RCS (Rich Communication Services) to more Android devices, building up on its partnerships last year with a number of companies. Additionally, Google plans to extend the availability of its Digital Wellbeing feature beyond the Pixel and Android One lineup smartphones to other devices including the Moto G7 series.