“Chat heads” have been roundly criticized by Android users as one of the most annoying user experiences and design aspects on the platform. Those peeved by the so-called bubbles may soon find at least some relief with Android 12, as Google’s dialer app looks to go in a new direction with chips.
Android 12 has a whole API dedicated to this new potato chip-styled notification style, and it allows developers to display different statuses for incoming and ongoing calls as well as call screening. And now Google’s stock dialer is using it in some cases on Android 12.
From left: old-style chat head; new incoming call chip, and; ongoing call chip with runtime
The new chip picks up on your dynamic theme in Android 12, with an icon that seems to just about match the phone app. Before a call is answered, it’s just an icon, but after the other party picks up, it shows a timer for the current call runtime. Tapping it opens the dialer.
There’s also a redesigned notification that goes with it (visible above) with bigger, better, and more buttons, plus a generally updated Material sensibility.
A few people noticed that their bubbles were being replaced with chips while using the Phone by Google app this week while on Android 12 Beta 3.1 (via 9to5Google). We were able to pull up the new chip design on a device with Beta 4 but couldn’t on a Beta 3.1 device with the same beta APK version. This could be controlled by other apps like Google Play services, an as-yet-unknown flag/phenotype, or some other A/B lever we may not be privy to.
Plenty of our readers hated the old ongoing call bubble, which appeared whether or not you had bubbles enabled for the dialer app on prior Android releases, and now it looks like that’s going away. (Bubbles are still a notification option for many apps, but they’re also gone for us in settings for the Dialer app once the chip appeared.)