The all new and advanced Google Assistant is a core element of the company’s messaging app Allo, and the flagship Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones that run on Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box. Being exclusive to Pixel launcher on Google’s new smartphones, you can’t officially replace Google Now with Google Assistant on your Android smartphone. But, thanks to a mighty Android developer called Max Rumpf, one small hack enables you to get the Google Assistant running on any Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based smartphone right now. It uses Xposed framework and an app called AndroidN-ify to get the hack working. I tried it on my two-year-old HTC One M8 and it works like a charm.
But before you start jumping in joy, I’d like to point out that it’s a tedious process and needs to be done correctly. Also, the process only works on rooted devices running on Android open-source project (AOSP) ROMs. I’d recommend not trying on smartphones with skinned UI — such as HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, LG UX and Xiaomi’s MIUI among others. Ideally, it should work on all AOSP ROMs such as CyanogenMod, crDroid, Turbo ROM, PAC ROM and Cypher to name a few. In my case, CycnogenMod would put the phone in bootloop, whereas it worked smoothly on crDroid and Cypher ROMs. So, without wasting time any further, let’s look at the procedure.
As mentioned before, your Android smartphone should be rooted and running on Android Marshmallow (version 6.0 or 6.0.1). Next, you need install a file manager – I prefer Root Explorer, which costs Rs 251 (It may not make sense to buy the app for one hack, but if you are a regular tinkerer, Root Explorer is a must have app). You also need to have a custom recovery to be able to flash the Xposed module. The hack works on Google app beta (version 22.214.171.124) – arm, arm64 or x86 variant. While you can download the APK file from APK Mirror, I’d recommend signing up as a beta tester and download it from the Play Store. And last but not the least; you should have some patience too. ALSO Read: 8 Google Pixel, Pixel XL features you should know before you pre-order one
How to get Google Assistant on your Android Marshmallow smartphone
Step 1: Download the Xposed framework flashable file and APK from this page. Drop both these files in the root directory or in a new folder on the internal storage or microSD card. Now, turn off your smartphone, reboot to recovery and flash the zip installer.
Step 2: Turn on your smartphone, use file manager to locate the Xposed APK file and install it. (You’ll also need to check ‘Unknown Sources’ in Settings > Security to be able to install the APK file.)
Step 3: Download the AndroidN-ify APK from here and install it. And now starts the real game. So be very careful and strictly follow the instructions in the next steps.
Step 4: Open Xposed app, tap on the modules tab and check the AndroidN-ify box (as you can see in the above image).
Step 5: Open Root Explorer and check if the system is mounted as R/W (read/write). Now, tap on System > press and hold ‘build.prop’ and use the three dots menu button on the top right corner to ‘open in text editor.’
Step 6: Now, look for a line called ro.product.model. This model number will be your device name, like Galaxy S7, OnePlus 3, LG G5 or something like that. If there is no such file, create one like this — ro.product.model=Pixel XL (Here, we’re faking the OS to assume that the device is Pixel XL).
Step 7: Once this is done, head to the very last line and create a new one that reads – ‘ro.opa.eligible_device=true’ and save it. (Here, we’re letting the OS know that the device is eligible for Google Assistant). Look at the screenshot above.
Step 8: Reboot the device, confirm if the new model number is accepted or not. For this; head over to Settings > About Phone.
Step 9: Make sure you have the latest Google App beta installed. Now, head over to Settings > Apps > Google App > Storage > Clear All Data.
Once all this is done, open Google App and setup the Google Assistant. After it is setup, you can either invoke it by holding the ‘Home’ button for two seconds or by saying ‘OK Google.’
Check the above screenshot that shows the Google Assistant at work. If you were able to successfully get the Google Assistant working, or it did not work for some reason, do let us know about your experience in the comments section below.