Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Pixel Phone holds a significant advantage over third-party Android smartphones. Since its release, Google Assistant — the new AI powered personal assistant — has been a Pixel Phone exclusive. Third-party smartphones remain stuck with the previous generation Google Now. However, Google released an Android “alpha” build late last week and the new Android release enables Google Assistant on third-party smartphones.
GOOGL’s third-party Android smartphone partners have been feeling a little betrayed since the release of the Pixel Phone last fall.
Up until then, Google had not been directly competing against them. It developed Android and allowed them to use the operating system on their phones for free — a fair trade off for the hundreds of millions of mobile devices defaulting to revenue-generating Google search. Google did release the Nexus line of smartphones, but they were more of a showcase for Android than an attempt to compete against its partners.
The Pixel Phone’s Google Assistant Advantage
The Pixel Phone changed the equation. It was stamped with the Google name for the first time and it was designed to compete head-to-head with the best of the Android smartphones. In another first, a key new Android feature — Google Assistant — was a Pixel Phone exclusive. Google Assistant leverages Alphabet’s latest AI technology in a personal digital assistant that goes beyond Google Now, even gaining the ability to participate in two-way conversations.
The situation was serious enough to help convince Android smartphone leader Samsung Electronic Co Ltd (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) that it needed its own personal assistant. Samsung’s Bixby is expected to debut on the Galaxy S8.
New Android Release Spills the Beans: Google Assistant for All?
Android Police examined a developer “alpha” release of Android over the weekend and discovered that GOOGL may be having a change of heart about keeping Google Assistant to itself.
Its team was able to activate and use Google Assistant on several non-Pixel smartphones, including a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 running Android Marshmallow and a Nexus 6P running Android Nougat.
This means that GOOGL is at least experimenting with making Google Assistant available to third-party smartphones in an upcoming new Android release.