[Opinion] OK Google, it’s time you gave us back the Power button

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So, there’s a ‘feature’ that has crept into the Android smartphone experience with the proliferation of the Android 12 update, and it’s the power button being tasked with activating the Google Assistant ahead of what used to be its primary function. Instead of pressing the power button for a couple of seconds to access the Power Menu, you’ll be faced with needing to press the volume up button in order to reboot or power off the phone because if you just press the power button you’ll activate the Google Assistant instead. It’s annoying and unnecessary, and it’s high time that Google let the power button be the only button you need to press to shut down the phone.

Why?

Besides the increased inconvenience of needing to hold in a secondary button to access the Power Menu, it’s also a question of safety when it comes to needing to quickly shut your smartphone down. Whether it’s to stop unwanted people from snooping (TSA or law enforcement perhaps) or in an emergency situation where you need to keep your presence or location hidden without the chance of your phone ringing, vibrating, or activating its bright display at night, there are a number of reasons why you might want to turn your phone off quickly.

It’s a niche case, but do you really want to be accidentally taking screenshots because you’ve mistakenly pressed the volume down button instead of up? Or pressing the power button and accidentally getting the Google Assistant instead of powering off the handset. Aren’t there enough ways to activate the Google Assistant already baked into the Android platform without fiddling with the power button’s main purpose?

Not all brands have chosen to implement this ‘feature’, for example, if you have a Samsung smartphone, there’s no need to worry because it’s not an option. Instead, you’ll have the ability to set it to activating Bixby as an optional feature, not by default.

Can’t you just disable the feature?

Sure, you can head into Settings and disable the Google Assistant option but you’ll still need to press the volume up button in tandem with the power button to access the Power Menu if your phone is running Android 12. While you can tell the Google Assistant to power off the phone and then tap on the resulting tab that says ‘Power off the phone’, you’ll be swept headlong into a vicious loop of results asking you in various ways if you want the Google Assistant to actually power off the phone but to no avail. You’ll still need to press the volume up button in addition to the power button to turn the phone off.

Do we really need more ways to access Google Assistant?

It’s a small thing, and I understand that the frustration only comes into play when needing to power off or reboot the phone, but it’s still rather unnecessary in my opinion. It’s a redundancy that doesn’t need to be and accessing the Google Assistant is surely easier by tapping on the search widget, the Search app icon, saying ‘OK, Google’, or, if you aren’t using gestures, by holding in the Home button. Like I said before, do we really need another method to access Google Assistant?

So please Google, pretty pretty please, give us back the ability to press only the power button to turn off or reboot the device.

Let us know in the comments below if this is something that bugs you as well.

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