Google Assistant has made steady progress on extending its reach to Android phones. It debuted last year on the Pixel phone and in early 2017 became available to many Android users with smartphones that utilized the latest versions (7.0 Nouget and 6.0 Marshmallow) of the mobile OS. More recently it was announced that Google Assistant will be available on a feature phone in India. The steady march of Google Assistant continued last week with the announced availability on the 5.0 Lollipop version of Android OS smartphones and tablets.
Tablets in the U.S. But Broad Rollout for Smartphones
The tablet rollout includes 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0 but is restricted to U.S. English language users. The smartphone rollout for all three OS versions is far more extensive.
The Google Assistant on Android 5.0 Lollipop has started to roll out in to users with the language set to English in the U.S., UK, India, Australia, Canada and Singapore, as well as in Spanish in the U.S., Mexico and Spain. It’s also rolling out to users in Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Korea.
Voice Assistants Beyond the Cylinder
These announcements reinforce that voice assistants go well beyond smart speakers. Smartphones were the first make voice assistants available to consumers. They have the benefit of providing voice assistant continuity throughout the day, even when on the go. The rapid growth of hearables connected to smartphones will only increase their utility and convenience. Extending these features to tablets may result less extensive benefits, but speaks to the trajectory of voice assistant availability heading towards ubiquity.
All of this points to the significant advantage that global smartphone dominance offers to Google and Apple in their efforts to form habits and allegiance to their voice assistants. It is not to say that having a mobile platform will be a decisive advantage. But, in the near term, it is clearly a strong asset to enlist new users. That could in turn create preferences for smart speakers from these companies. This has not happened so far, but it is a key fault line to watch in the ongoing battle for voice assistant adoption.