+ Saturday December 7th, 2019

With Voice Assistants becoming more prevalent in both numbers and interfaces that they support, we’re filing this under the ‘oh I can’t believe it wasn’t already a thing’ category.

According to some code commits found in Chromium there will soon be a standards-based approach to hardware assistant keys on USB and Bluetooth accessories.

Yep, up until now, all of the hardware Assistant ‘buttons’ on devices have been implemented using 3rd party workarounds. The USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard that USB and Bluetooth devices are based on did not include a voice assistant option. A newly approved update to the USB Implementer Forum now includes a specific function for invoking voice assistants, especially for desktop-style environments.

While driven by Dmitry Torokhov from Google, this new HID feature could be used to launch any voice assistant, depending on how the underlying OS handles that input. For example on an Android device it would likely launch which ever voice assistant you’ve set as the system default. On other closed ecosystems it would launch that platform’s only option.

While it’s clear thanks to the Chromium commits that Google intends on including native support for the HID function into Chrome (and likely Android), it will be interesting to see how other platform respond. I could see Windows implementing an option for users to select their voice assistant of choice, where as I could never see Apple letting users use anything other than Siri.

Do you want a Voice Assistant on your desktop? Does the idea of a standardised hardware key excite you? Let us know below.

Source: ChromeUnboxed.
Via: 9to5Google.

Duncan Jaffrey   Associate

Duncan Jaffrey

Duncan has been interested in technology since coding "Mary had a little Lamb" in Basic on his ZX Spectrum. A fan of all things Android, most days you'll find Duncan trawling the web for Android news or quietly editing away on Map Maker.

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Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes

Good idea. If the Assistant button can take the place of the “undo” button on my iPad, I wouldn’t object.

Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

Don’t see it as necessary but if they must then it would have to allow assistant of choice, disabling and re-assignment to other functions.

Wayne Moore
Ausdroid Reader

When I read the headline, I thought

‘oh I can’t believe it wasn’t already a thing’


I would certainly use this. It’s no different to the Windows / Super key only it triggers voice instead of a graphical menu. I suspect some would like to reprogram the button to be old school Windows / Super or as per Jeni Skunk, disable it.

Jeni Skunk
Ausdroid Reader

Standards update for USB to allow it, yes. As long as there’s also, as part of this update, the ability to completely disable it, and also use the new key to control whatever the end user wants the key to operate. Because if not, then this new key standard will be the same degree of anti-user EVIL as the Bixby button.
As for my using such a button if it was on a new keyboard I bought, absolutely NOT!

Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

If Google pushes their ads onto Voice Assistants and Google Home devices as has been rumoured then I’ll happily switch to Bixby with all its faults.

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