Volume controls for Google Assistant on Android have been baked in with media since the feature was first announced but that may be about to change. Or at least it might if recent reports stemming from discoveries by XDA Developers are any indication. In fact, Google Assistant may be getting its own dedicated slider for volume on Android sooner than later.
In effect, what the newly discovered code in AOSP does is to create a separate stream of audio for Assistant. Dubbed "AUDIO_STREAM_ASSISTANT," that's given its own alias in the code. That encompasses audio fed through the gadget for virtual assistants.
In real-world use, that means users should be able to control that volume all on its own. Separately from media, alarms, or notification alerts and ringtones.
These volume controls aren't just for Google Assistant either
Another key point to note about the code is that it doesn't just apply to Google Assistant either. In fact, Google's source code explicitly lists at least one key competitor. The separated volume stream will work, according to Google, with "Google Assistant, Bixby, etc."
There are a couple of implications to be found in that change. Not least of all, it indicates that the search giant is at least planning to move all AI assistants to their own collective volume stream.
That's separate from other, previously-existing streams. And, in doing so, the company is likely going to have to wait on partners for the final release of the feature. Or at the very least until major partners and competitors in the AI market such as Samsung and Amazon manage to code their apps to work with the new dedicated audio stream.
The change was started with Android 11 but isn't part of Android 11
Now, the change was only spotted following the official launch of Android 11. But, as is often the case with experimental features when they're first spotted, it isn't implemented in Android 11 at all. That gels with the assumption that it's still in early development.
As such, Google isn't likely to release the feature to Android itself in the near future. It will most likely hold off until Android 12, at the earliest. That's if it releases the feature at all and doesn't make it a Pixel-exclusive feature with a feature drop for those handsets in Android 11.