Google is rolling out a new user interface for the Assistant right now. Which seeks to make everything round.
Now when you long-press the home button (or squeeze the phone, if you have a Pixel smartphone), you will see the same overlay as before. But this time, the corners are rounded. It gives it a unique look, but it doesn't really affect usability of the Google Assistant.
The second part of the redesign actually comes in the beta version of the Google App, which sits at v9.0.
When you swipe up now, and into the Google Assistant – where the Assistant shows you cards – everything there has rounded corners. This includes the different commands you can give the Assistant, as well things that are coming up for you. Like calendar events, bill due dates and more.
Google has also moved the Panel and Explore buttons from the upper-right hand corner, to the bottom row on the Panel screen. The Panel button is on the left, with Explore now on the right. These used to be side-by-side in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. A subtle change here, but it makes the Google Assistant flow a bit better. In the gallery below, you can see the changes side-by-side for the Google Assistant.
There are a couple of changes here that people will not like. And that is the fact that Google Lens and the keyboard icons are now much closer to the microphone in the center. Now when you open the Google Assistant and the microphone is listening, it covers up those two icons. Meaning that you now need to take the extra step to tap on the microphone again, before tapping on either the Google Lens or keyboard icons. For those that like to type to the Google Assistant instead, this is going to be a bit of a learning curve.
It is a bit interesting here that Google is rolling out these changes individually, with the rounded corners in the overlay coming in the stable Google app update, and the rounded corners on the Assistant Panel coming in the beta version. Though that does mean that it'll be coming to the stable app rather soon. It's possible that Google wants to test out the changes to the Assistant Panel a bit more before it rolls it out to everyone.
Google continues its pattern of redesigning things because it can
Google tends to like to do redesigns on apps and services, if for no other reason than, just because it can. And that's what is happening here with the Google Assistant. There was no real reason for Google to do this redesign. In fact, many feel that this is a downgrade, since it now takes an extra tap to get to either the Google Lens or the keyboard icon within the Google Assistant screen. For those that use those shortcuts often, it's going to be a nuisance.
The rounded corners throughout the Google Assistant does match most modern smartphones, which all have rounded corners now. That could by why Google decided to make this change. And it does make Google Assistant look a bit nicer on these smartphones with rounded corners, but it's clear it still needs some work. These changes are rolling out now through the updated Google app. So if you don't see them just yet, then you'll want to check out the Google Play Store and update your Google App.