Google Assistant is now rolling out to more Android smartphones and tablets that are running older versions of Google's mobile operating system, a move that will greatly expand the availability of the digital assistant.
Digital assistants such as Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Amazon's Alexa are rapidly growing in popularity, so it would make sense for Google to open up its own product to those who are already in the Android ecosystem.
Google Assistant Coming To Android 5.0 Lollipop Smartphones
In an official blog post, Google announced that it is rolling out Google Assistant over the coming week to tablets in the United States powered by Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, as long as their language is set to English.
The big news, however, is the expansion of the Google Assistant availability to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which was released in 2014. According to Google, the digital assistant has started rolling out to Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphones set to English in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, and Singapore, and also to smartphones set to Spanish in the United States, Mexico, and Spain.
Google Assistant is also now rolling out to Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphones in Brazil, Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea.
Once users receive the update and decide to opt in to the service, an Assistant app icon will appear in the device's All Apps list. Google Assistant is not embedded in the launcher of these older Android versions though, so users will need to launch the digital assistant's app before they can use it.
The rollout of Google Assistant to Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphones comes several months after the digital assistant started arriving to Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow smartphones.
Expanded Google Assistant Availability Due To Android Fragmentation
The need for Google to work on expanding the availability of Google Assistant is partly due to the severe Android fragmentation problem.
According to the Android Developers Dashboard, only 0.5 percent of Android devices are running on the latest version, Android 8.0 Oreo. With the announced expansion, Google Assistant will now be available to nearly 80 percent of all Android devices out there, which will likely increase the digital assistant's usage and popularity.
However, despite making Google Assistant available to Android versions that are three years old, the digital assistant will still not be enjoyed by about 20 percent of Android users.
It should also be noted that the availability update for Google Assistant does not include India, which is the second biggest smartphone market worldwide and where customers are more likely to buy cheaper devices on old Android versions.