The upcoming LG G7 ThinQ smartphone will have a unique, physical connection to Google Assistant.
The flagship phone, slated to be unveiled in a New York event on May 2, will sport a dedicated hardware button specifically for Google’s digital assistant, according to people familiar with the smartphone. The Google Assistant button will be on the left side of the phone, while the power button is on the right. The fingerprint reader remains on the back.
The G7 ThinQ is the first smartphone to commit a physical button to Google. It follows a similar strategy employed by Samsung, which placed a specific physical button to call up its Bixby assistant.
The easy access to Google Assistant is part of the broader push by LG to sell artificial intelligence as a bigger differentiator. The use of AI has been a key theme for LG this year, from the integration of Google Assistant to its televisions, to the use of AI to recognize images shot by the V30S ThinQ’s camera.
It’s not the only one — touting artificial intelligence capabilities has been the trend du jour of the tech world. Companies like Huawei and Samsung talk about AI in their products, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed during his Congressional testimony that AI would help rid his social network of fake and harmful content.
Like the V30S, there will be unique custom LG commands that you can ask of Google Assistant.
The G7 ThinQ’s Google Assistant button can’t be reprogrammed to call up another app, similar to the Samsung Bixby button. That will likely irk users who prefer to choose which app that extra button can activate.
An LG spokesman declined to comment on the story, only pointing to the teaser announcement for the phone.
Google Assistant has long been a core part of many Android phones — you typically long press the home button to call it up. But this marks a more aggressive push to get people to use the digital assistant. You could also squeeze the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to call up the assistant.
Google is in a battle to make its assistant a key part of our lives, pushing it in televisions, smartphones and its Google Home family of smart speakers. On the other side is Amazon and its Alexa assistant, found in its Echo speakers and a host of products ranging from cars to refrigerators.
LG, meanwhile, is in a war for relevancy. The predecessor to the G7 ThinQ, the G6, was a flop in the face of the redesigned Galaxy S8, and LG badly needs a phone that can turn some heads. The company has shifted its strategy to include more moderate updates like the LG V30S ThinQ.