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Android gives you separate volume control for media, notifications, and alarms, but Google appears to be working on adding a fourth slider to the mix. The AOSP Android 11 code suggests that the company is at least considering to add dedicated volume control for voice assistants, including but not limited to Google Assistant.
Mishaal Rahman spotted the change while looking through the minuscule code tweaks Google added to AOSP following the Android 11 launch. In it, a new stream type has surfaced, aptly called "AUDIO_STREAM_ASSISTANT." The corresponding entry describes how this would allow virtual assistants to retain their own volume without it changing when you adjust the media slider.
Add audio stream and usage for virtual assistant
New stream type: AUDIO_STREAM_ASSISTANT
This is intended to be used by a virtual assistant like Google Assistant, Bixby, etc.
The audio stream has own volume alias and the volume does not change by volume changes of other streams.
While it makes sense to give assistants their own volume slider, the behavior might produce more problems than it solves. Imagine you turn down your media volume while you're in a quiet public place and activate the Assistant — if you haven't lowered its volume, too, you might find it blaring out an answer much louder than you were expecting it to.
Android 11 adds a new stream type: AUDIO_STREAM_ASSISTANT. "This is intended to be used by a virtual assistant like Google Assistant, Bixby, etc. The audio stream has own volume alias and the volume does not change by volume changes of other streams."https://t.co/3omy2phZQM
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) September 8, 2020
Since the change is synced to the latest AOSP build but not live in Android 11, it's possible that Google has only started exploring the option and hasn't finished working on it yet, so it could be shelved for the next version of Android or a Pixel feature drop. As with any completely unreleased feature, there's also a chance that it'll be scrapped before ever surfacing in a usable state.
- Android source