The Google Pixel 2 doesn’t have a hardware button to bring up Google Assistant but it does allow users to activate it by squeezing the phone. However, this doesn’t mean that Google’s devices may never have a dedicated button for the personal assistant. References to this possibility have been discovered in the code of the latest beta version of the Google app for Android.
The Google app’s version 7.21 contains code which suggests that future handsets could have a “hardware_button” which could be pressed to “launch [Assistant] at any time.”
There’s even a corresponding graphic which would be displayed on a layout titled “error_hardware_button_training.” The strings for setting this up also reveal that users might also get the ability to add an Assistant tile to their device’s homescreen.
This obviously can’t be taken as confirmation of some sort that the next-generation Pixel handset from Google will come with a dedicated button for the Assistant. Just because the company seems to have entertained the idea doesn’t mean it’s going to go ahead with it.
Google might have thought about adding a hardware button for Assistant after seeing Samsung do the same right out the gate for Bixby on the Galaxy S8. With Google Assistant being far more capable than Samsung’s assistant, one could argue that it would make more sense for Assistant to get a dedicated hardware button.