Google Assistant, the AI-based digital assistant, is finally coming to tablets and phones running older versions of Android. Google has announced that Assistant will be rolled out to tablets running Android 7.0 Nougat and 6.0 Marshmallow, and smartphones running Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Google Assistant was first announced at Google I/O last year as the search giant’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. It was initially made available for smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat only, but soon Google expanded the availability to devices running Marshmallow as well. Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with an active install base of 29.7 percent, is the most widely used version of Google’s mobile operating system.
Now with the rollout of Assistant for Lollipop as well, Google Assistant is available on nearly 80 percent of all active Android devices around the world. The Assistant is available on smartphones running Lollipop as part of an update to the Google Play Services.
Google continues to struggle with Android fragmentation issues, and has taken initiatives like Project Treble and Android Go to push the adoption of latest version among smartphone makers. However, it has seen limited success, and has now resorted to pushing features like Assistant to older versions as well.
In a blog post, Google says the Assistant will only be available to Android Lollipop users in the US, UK, India, Australia, Canada and Singapore, as well as to those who have set their default language to Spanish in the US, Mexico and Spain. It will also be available to users in Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Korea. Once users update to latest version of Google Play Services, they will see an Assistant app icon in their “All apps” list.
The Assistant on tablets will be rolling out over the coming weeks to users with default language set to English in the US. Google also notes that Assistant on a tablet will be ideal to control smart devices like plugs and lights or ask about the weather.
Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are reshaping their products with an AI-first approach. Google, in particular, seems to be making that transition faster than its rivals by integrating its voice-activated assistant on speakers and even headphones from brands like Bose. At the third edition of Google For India event in New Delhi, Google brought Assistant to JioPhone strongly indicating its future plan.