Over the weekend, the new Google Assistant on Pixel phone started losing its original translucent UI. The design that replaced it is now appearing on other (non-NGA) Android devices with minor tweaks – a shorter panel – and greater emphasis on Lens.

In December 2020, Google rolled out an Assistant redesign that brought the four-color light to all (non-NGA) Android phones. The panel slid up with a bouncy animation and featured a large Assistant “g” as well as a carousel of action chips at the bottom.

Google is now tweaking Assistant’s appearance with a shorter panel that sees the “g” logo go black/white (depending on theme) next to the “Hi, how can I help?” prompt. Meanwhile, there are now only two suggestion chips in a new location at the top of the panel. “Screenshot” is quite straightforward, but there’s now also “Lens.” The panel is occasionally taller to allow Google to suggest an app-related voice capability.

This notably takes over the duties of “What’s on my screen?” — previously known as “Now on Tap.” Tapping the button captures the screenshot and sends it to Google Lens for usual analysis. It’s a better step toward integration, and might be more useful for some people than the shortcut launching the live camera. However, others might now have to learn to launch Lens from the Google app or the homescreen shortcut

Overall, this UI is similar to what we first saw over the weekend on NGA, which does not have Screenshot/Lens shortcuts today. We’ve so far encountered this short Google Assistant with Lens shortcut on a Pixel 3 running Android 11 and the latest Google app beta.  

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Google tweaks Assistant w/ shorter panel, Lens as ‘What’s on my screen?’ replacement on Android
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