Google’s latest update of its Android phone app comes with the addition of a rather popular interactive messaging feature: chat heads. You may recognize the little floating chat bubbles that you can drag around your phone as a mainstay of Android, but they were in fact invented in their modern form by Facebook back in 2013 as part of a now-defunct Android lock screen product called Facebook Home, which bundled Messenger chats with your SMS text messages for the first time.
Chat heads have since become a popular feature for messaging apps across the board (except for iMessage), and Google is now integrating them into Google Phone version 17, as reported today by 9to5Google. Similar to how chat heads pull up a drop-down menu of recent chats for Messenger and other Android SMS apps, Google Phone’s chat heads let you exit the phone app and maneuver around your home screen, with a little circular bubble on the screen indicating that the call is still ongoing. It’s a neat little multitasking feature.
Tapping the head gives you options like back to call, mute, speakerphone, and end call. You can also drag it to the corners of the screen if you like, in the event you’re using speakerphone or headphones and want to access the internet or another app while you’re on the call. Unfortunately, Google Phone remains available only for Pixel, Nexus, and budget Android One devices, due to cell carriers handling core functions like phone calls and voicemail for other Android handsets. You can download the most recent version of Google Phone from the Play Store now.