You no longer need a Pixel to use Google Assistant on your smartphone.
Google is finally expanding its Assistant to phones beyond the Pixel line. The company is starting to roll out the intelligent assistant feature to nearly all phones running Android Marshmallow and Nougat (some low-end devices excepted.)
The update, which will be part of a change to the Google app, will be available in the U.S. beginning this week and will then launch in the UK, Australia, Canada and Germany. Once live, you can use the feature by holding down the home button or saying “Okay Google.”
Although Google has previously brought the feature to messaging apps, smartwatches and televisions, this marks its biggest expansion to date. New flagship devices unveiled this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona will ship with the Assistant and many older phones will also be eligible for the update. (Google hasn’t yet revealed a timeline for non-English speaking countries other than Germany.)
Google Assistant responds to all the same commands as previous versions of Google Now and voice-activated Google searches. But the AI-powered Assistant is also able to respond to commands based on what’s in your Google accounts asking for details from your inbox or photo collection, for example. It also understands context and can answer more complex questions than many other assistants.
Google is expanding its Assistant beyond the Pixel very soon after launch, raising the question of whether it has plans to eventually move beyond the Android platform. For now, the company won’t say for sure, but a Google spokesperson said the longterm goal of Assistant is “to be available to users wherever they may have questions.”