Google is reportedly in the process of replacing voice search on Android devices with Google Assistant.
According to a report from 9to5Google, the old voice search icon has been replaced with an Assistant icon in the Google app and search bar widget.
In addition, the search bar widget now invites users to “Ask your Assistant”, when previously it had the message “Say “Hey Google””
When triggered, voice queries are performed by Assistant and results open in a slide-up panel.
It appears this change hasn’t been rolled out to all Android users, though 9to5Google can confirm it has been rolled out to some.
What does this change mean?
Google shifting the focus from regular voice search to Assistant is an indication of where Google wants to guide the future of its services.
This change could potentially impact a small percentage of organic search traffic to publishers, given the Assistant’s penchant for providing direct answers.
When users are given the answers they need from Google Assistant, they don’t have to search and click through to publishers’ sites.
Although it’s important to keep in mind that Assistant can’t provide a direct answer for every query.
Again, this change only has the potential to impact whichever percentage of searches are conducted using voice search on Android.
However, it’s impossible to know exactly how large or small that percentage is because Google doesn’t provide voice search data.
Why we should care? The Assistant tries to provide “answers” and, increasingly, rich visual information rather than a list of links or conventional search results. Any distinction between the Assistant and what we might call “traditional mobile search results” will probably disappear in the relatively near future.
A recent study from Adobe found that 48% of consumers are using voice for “general web searches.” Those numbers will be going up as the Assistant gradually becomes the primary way that people access information on mobile devices.