Technology

MWC 2017: Google brings Assistant to more Android phones

Google Assistant
Image caption Google Assistant will soon be available to many more smartphone users

Google's voice-activated digital assistant will soon be available on smartphones running the latest versions of the Android operating system.

Until now, Google Assistant had only been available on the firm's own Pixel phones.

The service, like Siri on iPhones, allows users to interact with apps and ask questions.

LG was one of the first smartphone makers to reveal it would feature the assistant on its new device, the G6.

Google's update will starting rolling out this week to users with Android 6.0 Marshmallow or 7.0 Nougat installed.

"With this update, hundreds of millions of Android users will now be able to try out the Google Assistant," said Gummi Hafsteinsson, product lead for Google Assistant, in a blog post.

But other virtual assistants are out there. At the Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona, Lenovo Moto revealed that Amazon's Alexa assistant would be coming to the Moto Z phone.

This will happen via an alternative back - known as a MotoMod - that Amazon will sell for the Moto Z later this year.

And at the CES tech show in Las Vegas last month, Chinese tech giant Huawei announced it would include Amazon's rival Alexa assistant on its phones.

'Natural step'

Google Assistant differs from its competitors slightly in that it is designed to prompt conversations with users and respond to follow-up queries.

"It is a natural step for Google to offer Google Assistant to as many smartphones as possible because AI is at the heart of Google's strategy, said tech analyst Ian Fogg at IHS Technology.

"With the machine learning that underpins Google Assistant AI, the more people that use Assistant, the smarter it will become."

Initially, Assistant will be available to English-speaking users in the United States.

English-speaking users in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom will receive the update next.

Support for other languages will follow, Google said.

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