Remember the flood of Amazon Alexa news coming from CES 2017 in early January? Everyone wanted a piece of Amazon’s voice technology, including companies that made Android devices, which you’d expect to get support for Google Assistant before anything else. Well, the Amazon buzz wasn’t nearly as strong as the biggest mobile show in town. Sunday was packed with press conferences, and everyone was announcing support for Google Assistant. Something strange was happening.
It all started with the LG G6, at which point I thought Google was choosing select partners to bring its Google Assistant to more devices. Soon after than Huawei announced that the P10 line would get it. Then, Nokia, Motorola, and Sony followed, saying that their brand new handsets will also get Google Assistant integration. Google even made special appearances during some of these press events, to talk about some of its Android features, including Google Assistant.
It didn’t take long for it to become clear, all these upcoming handsets will feature Google Assistant integration out of the box. This is something Google wants, and Google will have it. Why hasn’t Google launched its Assistant on other devices aside from the Pixel? For some reason, it wasn’t apparently ready to do it.
But it is now. On Thursday, the final day of MWC 2017, Google made it official: all Marshmallow and Nougat devices will get Google Assistant support, not just the brand new ones coming out of the show. Google did not make a big fuss about Google Assistant at the show, although it did announce that Google Assistant will be available to try out on a variety of devices at its Android Village.
On the other hand, MWC attendees probably got the idea as soon as the Congress kicked off last Sunday and they got to try more and more devices. A hard press on that home button would constantly bring up the Assistant, signaling that something big is happening. You didn’t need to see Google’s announcement to know something was going on.
What matters now is that everyone who’s on a fairly new device will be able to use it. Google posted a video on Thursday to inform the masses about the roll out.
And I can’t but observe that the timing of this Google initiative could not be better. Samsung is rumored to bring to life a brand new advanced assistant for the Galaxy S8 called Bixby. By the time it launches, however, Google Assistant should also be enabled on the Galaxy S8. Google did mention Samsung specifically in its announcement.
How do you install Assistant on your smartphone or tablet? You don’t. You just update Google Play Services, and Assistant will come to you. If you want to use it, that is. You can also disable it if you find the whole concept too creepy for your taste.
Android Wear 2 will also get the feature, and TVs and cars will follow.