Google Voice Search is dead. Cue in somber music.
For many years before Google Assistant was a thing, Android had a microphone you could trigger to perform actions. It had actions such as calls, texts, emails, music back in 2010, more than 10 languages supported way back in 2012, introduced nicknames and relationships such as "mom" and "husband" in 2014, and had multilingual support also in 2014. But then Assistant was introduced and Google started slowly transitioning things over from Voice Search. Now, its last vestiges seem to have disappeared from the Google app - at least if you have Assistant enabled in your language on your device.
You may remember Voice Search as the red microphone in Google Now. It was the white overlay for search that popped up from the top of the display each time you said "OK Google," or tapped the microphone in the Google Search widget on your homescreen or in the Google app itself. It did several things right, like multilingual support, and up until a few days ago it was still capable of adding items to Google Keep's lists - something Assistant unforgivably disabled long ago. But it was falling behind, with many functionalities barely working, and it lacked all the flashy Assistant features such as proper smart home control, talking to third-party actions, and more.
More importantly, however, it caused a divergent and inconsistent experience on devices that had Assistant: users likely didn't know why one voice search was popping from the bottom of the screen and the other from the top, nor why one of them did things the other couldn't. Now it appears that Google is phasing out the old Voice Search experience, at least on devices where Assistant is activated.
Tap the mic icon in the Google app or on the Google Search widget and you'll get Assistant. No more Voice Search.
Google app mic icon opened Voice Search before (left), now it opens Assistant (right).
I've verified this behavior on 3 devices running different versions of Android (Pixel 2XL, OnePlus 5T, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8") and our tipster is seeing it on his Galaxy S8. The only commonality is that all have Google app v7.26.14 (beta). Version 7.25.17 (stable) still launches Voice Search even if you have Assistant enabled. So it's likely that the change was introduced with v7.26 (I tested the .13 release and it behaved the same as .14).
And that is the beginning of the end. If Assistant isn't available in your language or if you haven't enabled it on your device, chances are you may still see the old Voice Search, but I'd say those days may be numbered. We know Assistant is due to arrive for many languages before the end of the year and it's likely that by then, the mic icon will start asking you to enable Assistant instead of opening Voice Search.
This seems to be a server-side test. Some of you are updating to v7.26 beta and finding that Voice Search is still there when you tap the microphone icon, others are getting the Assistant. It's a widely-spread test though, and it is triggered by the update to 7.26 beta. So yes, Voice Search is being killed (we all knew this day would come), but it's still on its way to the guillotine and not completely dead yet. Odds are the server-side test will spread to more users, then the stable version, and finally it'll be the new status quo.