Excited to get Google Assistant on your Android phone? Until last week, it was only available for Google Pixel phones. Now, it’s rolling out slowly to Android phones beyond that. Here’s how it may come to your phone or why it might not be on it already.
Google Assistant is Google’s new digital assistant to take on the likes of Siri. It allows you to easily speak what you want and get back answers. It’ll even have a conversation with you and complete some actions like movie ticket bookings, when all goes well. When it doesn’t go well, you might prefer to do a regular Google search.
Until last week, the only smartphones with Google Assistant were Google’s own Pixels. However, the company announced that smartphones running Android 6 or Android 7 would get Google Assistant, with the release of Google Assistant beginning last Thursday.
Here’s the rundown on how Google Assistant will come to your Android phone, if eligible.
You can’t download it as an app
Google Assistant isn’t an app that you can download. It’s part of the Android operating system, much as Siri is part of iOS. If Google decides your phone can handle Google Assistant, you’ll get that as part of an Android OS update. If not, you can always try Google Assistant by using Google’s Allo app.
You need to meet these requirements
Phones also have to have 1.5GB of memory or higher and 720p or higher screen resolution.
It’s only offered to those with phones set to use English in the US, Australia, Canada and the UK. German speakers in Germany will also get it. More countries and language support are promised later this year.
Phones also have to support Google Play Services. Basically, if you get your apps on your phone using the Google Play app store, you’ve got Google Play Services.
You need Android 6.1.3 – maybe
Last week, Google specifically told Search Engine Land that phones need to be updated to Android 6.1.3 to get Google Assistant. If you’re on Android 6 below that release, you won’t get it.
Today, Google clarified that to mean that you need to have the 6.13 version of the Google app, not the 6.1.3. version of Android, to get the Google Assistant.
Unfortunately, I can see one Android 6 phone that has the 6.14 version of the Google search app still doesn’t have Google Assistant. So, it’s pretty confusing.
Android 7.0 may not be enough
If you have Android 7.0, that alone isn’t enough for you to have Google Assistant. For example, my Galaxy S7 Edge was upgraded to Android 7.0 today. Google Assistant did not come with it.
My Google Pixel phone is on Android 7.1.1, but I know someone with a Nexus 5X on that same version of Android 7.1.1 without Google Assistant. So unlike with Android 6, Google Assistant with Android 7 doesn’t seem tied to a particular version.
Google told Search Engine Land today that there’s no particular version of Android 7 needed. It just might take weeks until these Android 7 devices get it.
Upgrading Google Play Services may not work
I’ve seen advice in various places purporting that people can download the latest version of Google Play Services and “sideload” that onto their phone to get Google Assistant. However, I have multiple phones with the most current version being recommended for download that do not have Google Assistant. I suspect this isn’t actually a solution.
How long will it take to get?
Google told Search Engine Land that the rollout might take weeks to come to all the eligible smartphones out there.
How will I know if I have it?
To know if you have Google Assistant, hold down on your home button or icon. You should get this screen:
It will say, “Hi, how can I help.” If you don’t get that screen, you don’t have Google Assistant.
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