We've all been there: We ask Google Assistant a simple question and it decides to recite a 5-minute monologue for us. Brevity has been a long-standing request. It was first introduced for routines then for light controls on speakers, and now it'll be an option for all speech output on the new Assistant, which is available on the Pixel 4.

Under Assistant's settings on the Pixel 4 ( one way to get there is by going to the system settings -> Google -> Account services -> Search, Assistant, & Voice -> Google Assistant -> Assistant tab -> scroll down to Phone), you get three output options instead of the current two: Full, Brief, and None (unless hands-free). The Brief option is a new and welcome choice.

Left: Assistant speech output on a Pixel 2 XL. Right: On the Pixel 4.

However, with this option selected, Assistant currently seems to veer toward no speech output. When asked for the time or weather, or to turn on/off the lights, or even who's the president of a country, the answer shows up on the screen without any speech output. We couldn't get it to issue a spoken answer. Maybe Google is still fine-tuning when to reply out loud and when to just show the response on the screen. This new option should hopefully provide a middle ground for users who don't want to hear a long tirade each time they talk to Assistant.

  • Thanks:
  • Tiuri,
  • Moshe,
  • Poly Gon