Android Marshmallow, Nougat Devices To Receive Google Assistant

Simon Alvarez - Author

Mar. 2 2017, Updated 7:44 p.m. ET

Millions of Android devices around the world will be getting a pretty huge gift soon, with Google announcing that its powerful AI-driven voice assistant, Google Assistant, will finally be made available for eligible Android Marshmallow and Android Nougat devices starting today. The robust program is currently the search giant’s most robust voice-assisted program, easily superior to Apple’s Siri and comparable to Amazon’s Alexa.

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A report from The Verge stated that numerous areas would be receiving the Google Assistant, starting with Android Marshmallow and Android Nougat users in the United States, followed by those in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Canada. The exact timeline for the Assistant’s rollout remains unknown, but speculations are high that the A.I.-driven program would be released within the next few days.

What is particularly convenient for Marshmallow and Nougat users is the fact that users of the mobile OS variants would not need to download a separate app for their devices in order to receive the powerful voice-assisted program. Android M and Android N users would simply be prompted with an update in their devices’ Google Play Services.

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Thus, while the list of compatible devices has not been released yet, Android M and Android N users would only need to check if their devices are receiving a Google Play Services update. If their devices get the update, they are eligible to receive the Google Assistant.

An AI-driven voice assistant is not really new to Android users. Prior to the rollout of the robust Google Assistant, Android devices have had access to Google Now, a program that is very similar to that of Apple’s Siri. Assistant, however, includes a number of capabilities that are not included in its predecessor’s features.

Among these improved features is Google Assistant’s capability to converse with its users using common language, unlike Google Now’s keyword-focused input. Apart from these, Google Assistant is capable of determining its users’ input even amidst consistent back-and-forth dialog, allowing interactions to be spontaneous and natural, according to a TechCrunch report.

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With its capability to perform numerous tasks such as taking photos, initiating searches, providing directions, translating input and checking the weather, Google Assistant is far more robust than its predecessor. What is really the Google Assistant’s killer capability, however, is its “Actions,” the AI-driven voice assistant’s capability to link itself to a larger, more open ecosystem, similar to Alexa’s “Skills.” What makes the Assistant’s Actions better than its counterpart’s Skills, however, is that the program’s capabilities do not need to be pre-enabled or pre-installed.

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Google Assistant debuted to much success during Google’s I/O conference last year, and it was fully featured as one of the flagship capabilities of the tech giant’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones that were released in October, 2016. During the flagship devices’ launch, Google made it a point to establish the Assistant as one of the smartphones’ most notable features.

With the mass rollout of Google Assistant to Android N and Android M, however, there is a pretty good chance that the AI-driven, voice-activated program would be able to become as prolific as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. After all, despite the Assistant being released only to devices running Android Marshmallow and Android Nougat, the number of smartphone users with devices currently running the mobile OS’s versions are very noteworthy. Android M, for one, commands almost 31 percent of the market share. Devices running Android N number far less in the market, at just 1.2 percent.

Android users who are eligible for the Google Assistant update would simply need to press and hold their devices’ Home Buttons in order to launch the powerful AI-driven voice-activated program, similar to how its predecessor, Google Now, was launched. Users could also speak the hotword phrase “Okay, Google” to launch the Assistant. With the Google Assistant, it would not be an exaggeration to state that millions of Android smartphones would get instantly most intelligent and useful.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]


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