Google just announced that its virtual assistant is coming to non-Pixel phones. Until this confirmation, Assistant has only been available to other phones via Allo, its messaging app, and only its pair of Pixel handsets integrated it natively. Now it's landing to Nougat and Marshmallow devices as soon as this week.
You Will Soon Have Google Assistant
Assistant is powered by machine learning and deep learning-based language processing, which in layman's terms just means that it talks smart, acts smart, and seems more like a person a user is talking to than a flat, robotic, companion without wit or emotions. Google's technology enables Assistant to understand context, thereby paving the way for two-way conversational interactions between the user and the device.
Assistants also syncs across other Apps by Google, such as Calendar, Maps, or Keep, and it powers Google's smart speaker, Home. It is launched by saying "OK, Google" or by holding the home button. Assistant can do a staggering number of things, including, but not limited to: Getting flight confirmation numbers, searching for locations, sifting through photos based on context, providing weather reports, and — assuming you have them — controlling smart home devices.
"With the Google Assistant on Android phones, you have your own personal, helpful Google right in your pocket," wrote Gummi Hafsteinsson, product lead for Google Assistant, in a blog post.
Sorry, LG G6
The timing of Google's decision follows LG's announcement that the just-unveiled G6 will be the first non-Pixel phone to have Assistant built in. Looks like that's an incentive it can't trumpet anymore once Assistant releases to other Nougat and Marshmallow devices.
Assistant will roll out to the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany. Google says that it plans to support additional languages "over the coming year."
Assistant, like many features like it, has until now been tightly kept exclusive to Pixel phones. Heck, even Google's previous Nexus flagships don't have it yet. The Pixel and Pixel XL were announced back in October. Both are Google's first self-made — actually manufactured by HTC — flagships with the new "Pixel" moniker in exchange the long-running Nexus branding.
When And How To Get It
Google hasn't offered an exact release window beyond "this week," but it's not exactly prone to breaking promises; so expect it to arrive this week. There's no need to update handsets to receive Assistant. Google says it will become functional with Google Play Services installed once available.
Besides Pixel phones and Home, Assistant can only be found on smartwatches powered by Android Wear 2.0. That will soon change, of course. Assistant will also come to TVs and cars in the future, according to CNET.
Google's move is wise, if a little late. Tech companies are beginning to experiment with their own virtual assistants. With millions of Android phones running Marshmallow and Nougat globally, Google's own virtual assistant gains ubiquity in the race for proprietary voice-enabled companions.
Thoughts about Assistant? Are you thrilled it'll open to a lot of devices soon? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!