Google is reportedly preparing a major update to one of the best features in Android Nougat 7.1.
The company revealed the latest version of its mobile software alongside the launch of its Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones last year.
The stand-out feature was a super-smart AI assistant that lived inside your device, and was able to respond to voice commands and questions with a whole host of information.
But now rumours have suggested that you may no longer need to speak directly to the Google Assistant anymore thanks to a major new update.
Hidden inside the code for the latest beta version of the Google mobile app for Android devices is a new feature that shows you will soon be able to type questions to the Google Assistant.
AndroidPolice spotted a change in the layout of the Google Assistant’s popup, which will now include a keyboard icon and a box for entering text.
This latter feature also includes the prompt, “Type something…”, so tapping on the keyboard icon will bring up the text box. suggesting that Google wants to get you chatting as much as possible.
There’s no suggestion yet of when the update will be rolled out, although its presence in the beta code suggests Google is seriously considering rolling it out soon.
This addition should make it easier to get information from the Google Assistant, especially if you’re out and about in loud places where a voice command might not get picked up.
But the new feature should also allow developers to create new and more advanced chatbots than ever before.
Chatbots are an automated service that analyse and respond to your messages using their own Artificial Intelligence programming.
The report also discovered references in the beta to “search gestures”, suggesting that users might soon be able to just swipe to open the Assistant, rather than tapping the search bar.
Google Assistant is summoned by saying “Ok Google” on pressing and holding on the Home Button at the bottom of the display.
Talking to the virtual Assistant takes the form of a text conversation, with speech bubbles displaying your questions and Google’s responses.
However only the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are able to access the great feature for the time being, as Google is holding back Android Nougat 7.1 from other devices for the time being.