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Google Assistant is coming to all phones running Marshmallow and above

The Google Assistant is available on the Google Home, Android Wear 2.0, Google's messaging app Allo, the NVIDIA Shield TV, and Android TVs, and Google is now vastly expanding its reach by bringing the AI-based virtual assistant to all phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above.

Google made the announcement at Mobile World Congress, stating that the rollout will kick off later this week for English users in the U.S., followed by English users in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as German speakers in Germany. The best part is that you don't have to wait for an update from your manufacturer or carrier to receive Assistant, as an upcoming update to the Google app — version 6.13 — will enable the functionality.

Assistant will be enabled on millions of phones through an update to the Google app.

All phones running Google Play Services will be eligible to receive the update, which rules out devices made in China and those using forked versions of Android. You also need to have a phone running at least 1.5GB of RAM and a 720p display to use Assistant.

Google has mentioned that it will make the Assistant compatible with more languages over the course of the year. New handsets will offer the Google Assistant out of the box, like the LG G6. Google is also showcasing Assistant on phones from HTC, Huawei, Samsung and Sony later this week at MWC.

Assistant is still in its nascent stages, but there's a wealth of functionality on offer. You'll be able to use the "Ok Google" command to view flight itineraries, weather alerts, set reminders, control the lighting in your house, view calendar events, and so much more. Google Assistant understands contextual queries, allowing you to pick up from where you left off in a particular thread.

By rolling out Assistant to all Android phones, Google is looking to take the fight to Amazon's Alexa. Alexa has racked up over 10,000 skills over the last two years, but the ubiquity of Android allows Google to reach a far wider userbase, thereby giving the search giant much more data to work with to improve Assistant.

Here's what you can do with the Google Assistant

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

71 Comments
  • Now that it matters to me, can someone help me understand what I can do with Google assistant that I wouldn't be able to do with Google now?
  • I don't know about new abilities but I can say my Google Home is MUCH better and more accurate with queries than Google Now is on my phone and tablet. Google Home can't rely on spitting out search results on a screen (though on rare occasions it will tell you to check the app for links with more information). I'm hoping the expansion of Assistant means integration with Google Calendar and Reminders is finally coming to Home.
  • If you do anything with IFTTT you can use that with voice commands. I have an old WeMo switch that I could set up with voice commands to turn a lamp on/off once Assistant rolls out as an example.
  • Nothing. It's a rebrand
  • Exactly and Google Now have some functionality that Google home hasn't added yet.
  • That would be a big fat no, lol! Definitely not accurate... They may be similar but they are not the same
  • Home automation control
  • 3rd party integration is just one i can think of
  • You are are able to have a fluid conversation with Assistant so it you say "how many people are there in NYC?" and it answers you can then ask "how many are under 40?". Assistant remembers that you were talking about people from NYC. Assistant also has better app integration and smart home abilities. It is the smartest personal assistant available on the market from any company.
  • You can chat with it and can play some games.
  • Google Assistant allows to talk and control smart devices like smart thermostats, door locks, lights, AC units, sprinklers system, etc.
  • Finally!!!!! my Nexus 6p and HTC 10 could use some love from assistant.
  • I'm I missing something here what the F ..Is the difference between the two goggle now does the same damn thing at least to me on my s7 edge. It's just a marketing tool if you ask me ,goggle desperate attempt to get you to buy the bezel phone haha nope
  • It's coming to all phones now.... It was a Pixel-exclusive not just as a marketing point. It also serves as some sort of test bench. Google Assistant was going to reach all devices from the get-go. It was a matter of when, not if.
  • Bezel phone exclusive, translation, marketing tool to get you to buy it
  • Look. You don't buy a Pixel just because it has Assistant. It was going to come to all phones anyway.
  • Bought it for the build quality and performance. I rarely use the assistant, I see no difference between it and Google Now
  • I don't think it was originally coming to all Android phones. I think Google was forced to do this because of Alexa.
  • No. From the get-go, it was going to be on all phones. If you read the headline for the Pixel, it says this. "The first phone with the Google Assistant built-in" That headline, if you read it closely and understand it, hints that widespread support for the Assistant is coming.
  • What's wrong with a bit of bezel? It makes the device easier to hold and you don't have to worry about touching the sides of the screen (Galaxy Edge). If you want to see bad bezels, get an iPad.
  • Yes, you are missing something here. Probably multiple things.
  • With Google assistant, you can ask follow up questions. Like "who is the President?" And then ask
    "How tall is he?" Instead of it just shrugging like Siri would do in the same situation.
    And it is much more accessible... Because it is able to be used in Google allo. And with just a touch and hold. I could go on (:
  • So that was why we could enable Assistant on a leaked alpha build.
  • Cool, I guess. Better than the rest in this segment still means half-baked, easily the most disappointing feature on the Pixel.
  • But now that more phones are getting it, there's more reason to actually improve it. Pixel was basically an Assistant Beta Test so of course it wouldn't be perfect. More people using it means more feedback on how to improve it.
  • This is great news! My only concern is it may not come to my Galaxy A5 (2016). It meets all the requirements, but I've been left out of features like this in the past.
  • Is it running Marshmallow? My dad's one does
  • sure is
  • Nice to see Australia getting in on the first wave for once. Normally we get left behind on these sorts of things.
  • Useless bloatware. My dog is more useful to me than google now. all google now did was to such battery and destroy the standby. only the google fangirls desperately want this to prove their meaningless existence. google assistant will be something exactly same.
  • Can your dog control your Hue lights? Impressive You sound like a virgin, pissed that everyone around you is getting laid.
  • No, my dog can rip off your *****. And your google assistant won't be able to do anything to stop it. How do you like to control the hue lights after that?
  • Destroyed him.
  • have you used the assistant yet? It is significantly better than google now.. and it also has the smart home capabilities to control your lights and thermostat etc..
    Its definitely not for everyone, but it definitely has its uses ( and significantly more uses than google now)
  • "smart home capabilities to control your lights and thermostat etc.," Really?? Could you not find more useless tasks?
  • This.
  • You knock it now, but being able to be in bed and raise the temp without getting up, or turn off that light you forgot to turn off when leaving the apt (or sync multiple outlets to one control/button etc) is more useful than you'd think...
  • He can't afford any of those things. Let him sit there and be mad that there are options in the world.
  • So assistant works with my Hue Lights and does it work with Sonos yet? I have those throughout my condo and it'd be great to be able to turn on lights or music with voice control instead of reaching for my phone. I know that Alexa and Google Home can (or will do it later this year) but by speaking to my phone to would solve that issue
  • In theory this should do everything a Google home could do
  • how was it better than Google now? Except in holding a conversation with you. Who the hell in their right mind want to hold a conversation with a smartphone?
  • Perhaps technology isn't your thing.
  • The article says version 6.13 of the Google app will bring this feature. I'm already on that version, are you sure that information is accurate?
  • I'm sure all it requires is for Google to basically flip a switch on their end to make it available
  • More ways to get more data from you so they can sell it to their advertisers. You are nothing more than a walking billboard.
  • Turn it off. Also, Google does not sell your data. Known fact.
  • Of course not, is that what they told you.
  • Yep and so far no proof to the contrary. At least they are transparent about what is happening.
  • More tin foil logic
  • People are extremely gullible, this is what you get with the new short attention span generation.
  • So tell me Mr. Knowitall. What device do you use?
  • Prove us wrong.
  • They literally don't sell it
  • I hope it can identify music. I use that on Google now all the time, and have read that assistant doesn't do that yet.
  • Yay!
  • Will it then finally work with ALL Google accounts? Still waiting for G Suite compatibility.
  • Why does Google keep putting out apps that do the same as the previous app. Hangouts, Allo, Duo etc. Makes no sense to me. Have the all in one app and stop. You can't compete with Apple imessage at this rate. Google build of hangouts and scrap the rest.
  • You must be new to Android lol. Google always does crap like this. ADD af.
  • This! This is my problem with what Google has been doing. They keep scrapping products in hopes to build a better product. How do you expect to gain traction to get people to consistently use a product if you rarely ever update it, and when you do, update it with features people don't want, then eventually just scrap it and release multiple products which had the same features as the prior product. This is one of the the main reasons I'm still using SMS/MMS/Txt Messaging with people. It's the only "Messaging platform" which doesn't matter what kind of phone you use and doesn't require any proprietary app or round about number porting or craziness to use it.
  • Agreed. I know a lot of ppl will defend messaging apps, but I'm doing just fine with sms. It works, plain and simple.
    I'll admit however rcs sounds hopeful
  • I asked the assistant why my cat's breath smelled like cat food :)
  • What about English speakers in Germany? xD
  • I don't get how those who say Google Assistant is the same thing as Google Now can say that. Google Now doesn't have personality. Open up Google Now and say "How are you today" and you'll get search results... Say the same thing to Assistant... You'll get a response. They both can give you search results but IMO the purpose of Assistant is to be more personal and more conversational
  • So... the same, only creepier?
  • I just want to somehow keep the Now On Tap functionality when holding the home button. I use it everyday
  • I always share screen shots with the now on tap button {press and hold home button} so that I dont actually save the picture. Guess this will go away if the home button now opens assistant. But I still like the move.
  • Nope, you couldn't at first, and I missed it as well from Now on Tap, but now you can.
  • Hopefully they bring it to the Google app for iPhone.
  • This is why I prefer Android over iPhone. Instead of app updates being part of the OS (like on iOS), Google can easily update individual apps through the Play Store. I regret buying an iPhone SE now.
  • Has anyone actually started to see it roll out yet?
  • The update to the Google app is live in the UK, but with a disclaimer that offline voice activations are only in the US.