At a time when the tech world was busy welcoming Google's latest Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, a new app by the search giant quietly made its debut in the Play Store with the name Google Assistant. The app, however, doesn't bring Google's digital assistant to new devices, but simply triggers it on devices that already have it.
The Play Store listing of the app also clearly states that it doesn't do anything more than what holding the home button will do for you. Yes, the Google Assistant app is nothing but a widget that launches the AI-powered digital assistant.
"The Google Assistant app provides another way to launch the Assistant that's already available on your phone. It allows you to quickly access your Google Assistant with one tap. You can still access your Assistant by pressing and holding down your home button or by simply saying, 'Ok Google'," the Play Store listing reads.
Although the app probably won't interest many people, it will definitely help Google push out software updates faster, without requiring users to rely on server-side releases or update the entire operating system.
Users, who have smartphones running Android Marshmallow, Nougat, or Oreo, can download the Google Assistant app from the Play Store.
Google is winning the AI race
Since its launch with last year's Pixel and Pixel XL, the Google Assistant has been expanded to devices running Android Marshmallow and above. The service now offers plenty of new features, including the customization of how it sounds.
During Wednesday's launch event for the new Pixel 2 series, Google positioned the digital assistant as central to nearly all the newly-unveiled products, including the Pixel Buds wireless earphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the Home Max and Home Mini smartspeakers, and the Pixelbook laptop computer.
Thanks to the advanced Google Assistant, the new Home speakers can now be configured to recongnise different people from the sounds of their voices, something that neither Apple's Siri nor Amazon's Alexa can perform as of now.
Google Assistant is now also able to work with images. On the new Pixelbook, users can use a stylus to ask the digital assistant to look at images and identify them. In addition, Pixel phone users can use a new feature called "Lens" to allow the assistant access photos captured by the device's camera.
On top of all these, Google Assistant will soon be able to identify songs as well. Google revealed during Wednesday's event that both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can constantly identify songs being played around them. While the company didn't explain further, Android Police claimed in a report that the new Pixel 2 devices were apparently running an updated version on Google Assistant with the ability to identify songs.
"It's already functional on the Pixel 2... we were able to confirm it won't be a Pixel 2 exclusive. It will be coming soon to Assistant on your existing device," the report said.