Before Assistant, Google had “Voice search” capabilities that were closely integrated with full on Search. Over the past several years, all innovation has been focussed on Assistant and Google is now in the process of fully replacing Voice search on Android.
Before today’s change, the old “Voice search” could still be accessed through the Google app, Search bar widget, or app shortcut. The microphone icon in those three locations would immediately perform a Google Search and offer built-in Search cards as results. Assistant’s predecessor was more synonymous with the “Ok Google” hotword.
The Voice search icon has now been replaced with the g-shaped Assistant icon, while the old “Say Hey Google” prompt now says “Ask your Assistant.” Accessing still brings up the old interface, but the query is performed by Assistant and results open in the slide-up panel. The updated search widget now matches the field at the bottom of the Pixel Launcher.
This change is not yet widely rolled out on all the phones we checked this evening, but it is live on my Google Account regardless of Google app version (the 10.24 stable or 10.28 beta) and device.
Google’s old Voice search does have its fans and works in more languages, but the future is clearly the Assistant across all devices and surfaces. This is likely not an A/B test, but a permanent replacement. Google does not want to confuse users by offering two mostly similar experience to look up via voice.