The Google Assistant arrived last year with the first Google branded smartphones as an exclusive feature, however, it didn’t remain so, at least officially. In fact, developers managed to find a way to enable the Assistant on the Nexus 6P even before the first Pixel was shipped. Seeing how easy it was to just enable the Google Assistant on any other smartphone it was speculated that its official exclusivity to Pixel was only for a while. That speculation could turn out to be true sooner than expected. The LG G6 is said to be arriving with the Google Assistant and now an update to the Google App suggests that the AI powered assistant could make its way onto even more devices.
Some beta users of the Google App on Android are receiving an unusual alpha build v6.13 which is quite buggy, in case the “alpha build” didn’t already give that away. This build probably wasn’t meant to come out to users since it is still alpha, and nobody gets to sign-up for it. But somehow, it did make its way out to a few users and even fewer users are reportedly getting the Google Assistant after the update instead of Google now upon a long press of the home button.
As you can see in the screenshots above, taken from a Nexus 6P, a log press on the home button, (attempting to launch Google Now) brings up a card with the message “New! You just got the Google Assistant” and then one can proceed with the voice training and setup.
It’s possible that Mountain View is planning to bring its Assistant to more devices but this is not a proof nor confirming evidence that the next Google app update will bring the Google Assistant because not all features or changes in these test builds (sometimes even from the beta builds) make their way onto the official update. Android Police suggests this could even have been intentionally enabled for testing purposes, not necessarily of the Google App but the Assistant, so that Googlers who do not own a Pixel could also participate, and that sounds pretty reasonable.
It’s not clear what actually triggers the assistant because as mentioned it’s only working for some of the beta testers receiving the update. This is a positive sign nevertheless and should give some hope to people who’ve wanted to try out the new Siri competitor. but for some reason, couldn’t.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the other features and changes the new alpha build brings, head over to the APK teardown by Android Police.