TechCrunch – This story falls into the awareness but not necessarily the advisable category. During the Google product launch two weeks ago, top billing went to the new Google smartphone Pixel. One of the key features is the tight integration of Pixel with Google Assistant. There were a number of nice demonstrations of the voice interaction capabilities. However, this news was not universally welcomed by Android users, because the new Assistant will only initially be available on Pixel. It’s not a pan-Android feature today.
Hacking Android to Enable Google Assistant
TechCrunch offered up an article yesterday that revealed you can actually add Google Assistant to any Android phone if you are willing to root the phone and add two lines of code. The article included a great “Warning!”, “Danger!” sign right in the text. Apparently you can trick your Android device into thinking it is a Pixel.
ro.product.model=Pixel XL ro.opa.eligible_device=true
This then makes Google Assistant available. Please don’t try this at home kids! Just kidding. If you already know how to root a phone and customize it, have a ball. Keep in mind you need to be running Android Nougat for this to work. With Techtimes reporting that just 0.2% of Android users are on Nougat today, this is not likely to be a widely adopted hack in the near-term. Of course, most of those Nougat users are developers so maybe there will be a rush to install Google Assistant even before the first Pixel ships.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t know what you are doing, be careful not to brick your phone for something that will likely be available soon. The key takeaway here is that Google Assistant is unlikely to remain solely within the confines of Pixel for long. Google wants to be the one assistant to rule them all, because assistants are the next evolution of search.
The company certainly doesn’t want Android users to start getting comfortable with Alexa, Hound or Viv while waiting for Google Assistant to arrive. The 1.5 billion Android smartphones represent Google’s key point of competitive advantage. Google Assistant will be available as soon as these other devices have an OS version that can handle it.
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