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Is Android 12 on the verge of removing Google bubbles?

Is Android 12 on the verge of removing Google bubbles?

The latest Android update makes it appear that one of Google’s latest Android additions may already be on the verge of extinction.

When it comes to updating Google’s Android 12, most of our attention has been focused on the interesting improvements that the software offers. After all, since then privacy enhancements until interface progression to surface level and numerous small but significant touches There is definitely no shortage of bright new things to focus on with this latest Android effort.

However, in the midst of it all, one factor that has gone almost unnoticed is a seemingly subtle change in the way Google handles a basic Android concept introduced just a year ago. It’s a system called Bubbles, and I’m increasingly worried that Google is ready to give it up before it has a chance to shine.

Bubbles, if you remember, was a promising new multitasking system from which I heard for the first time in 2019. Their goal was to provide an easier way to interact with different applications and processes at the same time, which might be more appropriate. for phone use than the split screen option, nice in theory, but rarely used in reality.

With Android’s Bubbles settings, you can keep certain elements of the app available on the screen in a small floating circle, you know, like a balloon. (See what they did there?) You can then tap that bubble to expand the information in a window that would float above anything else you forgot on your phone, then tap it again to condense it back to that the base . bubble shape.

Bubbles is based on the interface introduced by Facebook in the prehistoric era of Android 2013. With Facebook, bubbles have been used to send messages so that you can keep conversations with high-priority people available and easily accessible for continuous access. Other applications have stuck to the concept and at the same time, primarily a bubble-based web browser, loved by advanced users Link Bubble . Do you remember your old one?

from anyway, that was idea . At the time of the debut of Bubbles in 2020, I was cautious in the hope that we would see Google leading by example and showing all Android developers the many ways in which such an interface could be beneficial. Messaging is the most obvious implementation, of course, but beyond that we could have seen the option to follow in the footsteps of Link Bubble and give us a way to throw a web page in a floating bubble when needed. This would make it deliciously easy to open and refer to the page while working on an email related to it, for example, or write a document describing it.

And this is just the beginning of how a system like Bubbles could be beneficial. Imagine if an app like Google Keep has a way to split a note into a persistent balloon so that you can quickly pick it up and jot down your thoughts while you do other things on your phone at the same time, or Periodically refer to a list while you are out and about or driving.another job. From notes to translation tools, to-do lists, recipes, instructions, documents, or emails (both the ones you actively write and the ones you’ve received and want to keep referencing), there is virtually no limit to the ways in which this system can be put in place. for intelligent use.

As an extraordinarily sharp, fresh-smelling writer said many months ago:

In the right kind of scenario, the Android Bubbles system could lay the groundwork for a form of multitasking that really makes sense from a smartphone perspective: a way to interact with multiple applications simultaneously without having to engage in desktop type . -mobile) the idea of ​​splitting the screen in half to focus on various things.

In particular, the same impressive specimen followed that comment with this now prophetic sentimental observation:

Of course, there is the usual asterisk that applies to any new application-oriented Android system: the utility and success of Bubbles is entirely in the hands of developers, both independent creators and the departments of large companies responsible for creation. . non-Google software that we use on our devices. Android has a bit of history in introducing seemingly promising concepts that fail to catch on, as developers don’t bother to embrace them; As fascinating as Bubbles may seem, only time will tell if and how it comes to life.

And that brings us today. So far, Bubbles has turned, well, into bupkis. A few messaging apps allow you to use the interface and that’s it.

As far as I know, exactly Two Apps created by Google took advantage of the Bubbles: Messages option, for obvious reasons, and then the standard Google Phone app, which used Bubbles to indicate the presence of an ongoing call and allows you to adjust call settings or end the call with a balloon. which appears automatically.

With Android 12, the latter system seems to overtake Bubbles and move to a new chip bar-based system that has the same basic purpose.

Android 12 phone call chip

Bubble-free active call indicator in Android 12: in the status bar, on the left, and when extended in the notifications panel, on the right.

I don’t necessarily know that any of the approaches is inherently better. The Bubbles system never seemed particularly appropriate for the purpose of the Phone app, if you ask me. But what strikes me is that Google is already abandoning Bubbles in one of them Two self-made applications that used it and, if we look at the history of Android, such a move this is not usually a good sign. for the future of the associated system.

What makes things worse is that in this case, Google doesn’t even hug completely the idea itself, so it is not at all surprising that most third-party developers did not stick to it. Google has kept the rules for what Bubbles might do quite limited from the start, and given that the company seems to be moving away from them, it’s hard not to wonder if Bubbles’ days are numbered. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Google has strayed from an idea. just a year After the introduction, it is not the first time that the company quietly removes a feature from the spotlight and then lets it collect dust for a while. before finally taking it out.

So far, there is no denying that Bubbles has not become a particularly useful Android feature. And I imagine that most Homo sapiens running Android didn’t hug him enthusiastically or embrace him on a large scale. However, at the same time, it is a situation of chickens and eggs. And when Google doesn’t pointed at Android device developers or owners of all Bubbles modes could be useful, it just turns out that no interesting or inspiring implementations have arrived.

Google has a slightly unhappy history of introducing new Android concepts that sound promising and then fails to lead by example and get the developer community to embrace them. With this subtle change in appearance surrounding Bubbles in Android 12, I can’t help but wonder if this is the next innovation that was once promising and is destined to face extinction before it has a chance to flourish.