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article imageGoogle Assistant is coming to ChromeOS

By James Walker     Feb 8, 2018 in Technology
Google is preparing to bring Google Assistant to ChromeOS, according to new code found in the platform's source. The company is beginning to significantly expand its aims for ChromeOS, which could present new opportunities for its AI to assist.
Google Assistant has been around for a while now but is still predominantly centred on Android smartphones and the Google Home. In an attempt to catch up with Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, Google's now preparing to bring the Assistant to a new class of device. Evidence found within the Chromium source, found by XDA-Developers, strongly implies the Google Assistant will be available to new ChromeOS devices.
Code containing references to the "GoogleOSAssistant" and "AssistantManager" was recently merged into the main ChromeOS source. It includes references to some settings for the feature and hints at how the assistant will operate when running on a ChromeOS laptop.
The code suggests that Assistant will be turned off by default. The manufacturer and user will need to explicitly enable it before the assistant's able to start listening for its "OK Google" hotword.
Once it's turned on, the assistant should operate identically to its presence on mobile devices. Most of the functionality is powered by backend server components that process the voice commands given to the app. Google could add some specialist commands to tailor Assistant to desktop environments.
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It's worth noting that the Assistant's already available on Google's PixelBook. It's currently the only Chromebook to support Assistant integration though, making Assistant itself a poor desktop companion. By contrast, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana are both available on their respective desktop platforms. Amazon's Alexa is also expanding to include Windows PCs.
In the context of the wider AR wars, the addition of the Google Assistant to ChromeOS appears to be an inevitable development for the platform. Google wants the Assistant to be available everywhere its users are, which includes desktop devices which may not have a touchscreen.
Laptops also present new opportunities for digital assistants since users are more likely to focus on individual tasks for long periods of time. ChromeOS could see Assistant move from a smart home interface into a versatile work helper for when jobs need to be done.
There's no indication yet of when the integration might be ready to go live. It's also unclear whether the Assistant will require new ChromeOS hardware or if it'll eventually be enabled for existing devices. The source suggests developers are currently implementing the Assistant's settings screens and OEM controls, indicating it may be quite advanced in development.
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