While many new wireless headphones and earbuds are already equipped with support for virtual assistants, Google has extended that convenience to more users of wired headphones. As 9to5Google points out, it’s now possible to quickly access Google Assistant features on an Android phone using 3.5mm and USB-C headphones that were previously unsupported.
Until now, Google Assistant integration was limited to wireless or wired options “optimized for Google Assistant support.” The company’s USB-C Pixel Buds were one of a few wired headphones to offer rich, hands-free integration with Google Assistant.
That’s no longer the case: plugging in a set of “non-optimized” wired headphones will now trigger a notification indicating that you can summon Google Assistant by pressing the action button on your headphones. You’ll be able to set timers, create calendar appointments, and hear notifications without having to tap on your phone screen.
I got it working with a pair of 3.5mm Apple EarPods (a relic!) and a Pixel 4A running Android 11 with the November security update. Sure enough, Google Assistant can be summoned with a long press of the in-line action button, allowing me to set and cancel timers and create and cancel calendar appointments, all without touching the phone screen.
Naturally, this is an update that will apply to a dwindling number of wired headphone users (solidarity, y’all), but it’s a nice one if you happen to fall into that group.