While unveiling the Pixel and Pixel XL today, Google spent a considerable amount of time talking about Google Assistant. Google believes that AI is going to be “the next big thing,” and the company has made Assistant the focus of all its new hardware. Many users have assumed that Google would be pushing Assistant to older Nexus hardware, but it seems that isn’t the case…
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It was previously rumored that Google Assistant would be an exclusive for Pixel devices, at least for a short period, and today we can confirm that. In a statement to 9to5Google, Google confirmed that “certain features” from the Pixel smartphones, including Google Assistant, would remain “unique” to those devices until Google decides to open things up to other OEMs. In other words, it’s exclusive for now.
There will be certain features — such as the Google Assistant — that will be unique to Pixel before we make a decision to offer it up to the rest of the ecosystem. With some of these features currently unique to Pixel, we’re carefully experimenting with these changes to assess user reaction and feedback.
So is there hope that Google will release Assistant to other devices? Yes, and it seems like the company intends to. However, it likely won’t be anytime particularly soon. From what we can see so far Assistant requires at least some system level changes, likely found in Android 7.1. That version of Nougat comes pre-loaded on the Pixel devices, but it won’t be launching for anything else for a while.
Android Police also got in touch with Google and confirmed that current Nexus devices, the 6P and 5X, as well as the Pixel C, should be getting a developer preview of Android 7.1 by the end of this year. The release date for the final version of 7.1 is unknown, as is if the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 will be supported through that release. Even when 7.1 arrives on those devices, there’s still no guarantee that Assistant or any of the other Pixel features will make their way to those devices. We’ll update this article if Google clarifies any further.