Google Assistant has long been unique to Google Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, but a new alpha test suggests that Google could be spreading the love.
You don’t have to go out and get a Google Pixel in order to get Google Assistant — rather, it would appear that the AI tool is beginning to make its way onto non-Pixel hardware. As first reported by Android Police, it looks as though an alpha version of the Google app has appeared in the wild by way of the version 6.13 update, and while it’s rather buggy, it’s the first time we’re able to see Assistant on a phone that isn’t a Pixel or Pixel XL.
As Android Police noted, both a Nexus 6P (running Android 7.1.1) and a Samsung Galaxy Note5 (running Android 6.0.1) were able to launch Google Assistant with the user simply holding the Home button. After a few moments, a dialogue with the message “New! You just got the Google Assistant” popped up, and allowed for users to set up voice training.
Be warned, however, that given that this is still an alpha version of the newest software, it’s working better for some than it is for others. It doesn’t seem to be linked to device type (some Nexus 6Ps got Assistant to work, while others didn’t), though it could be contingent on phone settings or other app versions. Regardless, the very presence of Google Assistant on v6.13 could mean exciting things for folks who have been waiting to get Google Assistant on their existing Android devices.
While we’re not rushing to any conclusions, it could be the case that Assistant will be made available to everyone when v6.13 becomes officially available. However, it’s also possible that some devices got Assistant as an error when mistakenly identified as a Pixel handset in settings (that said, the introductory messages that new users received suggest that this was not an error).
Regardless, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see exactly when Google Assistant becomes more widely available, but perhaps not as long as previously thought.