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ChatGPT for Android might get a feature I’ll never have as an iPhone user

Published Jan 7th, 2024 10:34AM EST
OpenAI's official ChatGPT app for iPhone.
Image: OpenAI

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ChatGPT is probably one of the top three apps you should have installed on iPhone and Android right now. The app gives you an even better experience than the desktop one, as it supports voice input and photos. It’s the best alternative to Google Assistant and Siri, though I expect the default smartphone assistants will get their own ChatGPT powers soon: One with Google’s Bard and the other thanks to Apple’s rumored AI assistant in iOS 18.

But you might not have to wait that long to turn ChatGPT into an assistant on Android devices. It appears that OpenAI is already looking at adding support to the app to let users replace Google Assistant with ChatGPT.

That’s a feature I can’t have on my iPhone, where Apple won’t let other assistants replace Siri. However, there is a great workaround on the iPhone for that, but one that requires a hardware upgrade.

OpenAI might soon launch the GPT Store for custom ChatGPT versions, but that’s not the only thing the company is working on. According to Mishaal Rahman, the latest version of ChatGPT for Android includes code that indicates users might be able to replace Google Assistant as the default assistant on their devices.

The developer was able to make the UI work on his Android device, though the feature is not functional. That is, you can’t use ChatGPT for Android after triggering the visual animation.

The feature isn’t surprising, considering how Android works. Google lets you set up other digital assistants as defaults. You don’t have to use Google Assistant. However, you won’t be able to invoke third-party digital assistants by voice.

Over on iPhone, it’s impossible to select a different default digital assistant. It’s only Siri that you get. You can use other Assistants, but you’ll have to use third-party apps to get there.

ChatGPT for iPhone already supports voice inputs, and it’s a great Siri alternative. You just can’t trigger it by default like it will happen on Android.

However, the iPhone does have a big advantage over Android, one that certain iPhone owners can already use. The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max feature a new Action button that can be customized to launch ChatGPT. Just like that, you get two assistants working on iPhone: Siri and ChatGPT.

All future iPhones will get Action buttons, so you’ll be able to invoke ChatGPT with the press of a button on all these devices.

Back to Android, I wouldn’t get too excited about replacing Google Assistant with ChatGPT. That’s because we’re still in the early days of AI. It’s unclear what sort of functionality ChatGPT will support as a default assistant on Android. Then there’s privacy to take into account. Digital assistants get access to more personal user data. Are we ready for ChatGPT to get access to that?

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.