If you’re trying to get your Google Assistant on your Chromebook, you’re probably out of luck. Unless you shell out $1,700 for a Pixelbook, but is it worth that much? Well, my first sentence might not be completely true, as Google is about to put their voice assistant on any ChromeOS device out there. Or are they? XDA Developers have spotted some code that suggests this is going to happen. Or at least, could happen. In a recent ChromeOS build, there’s a new feature that will let manufacturers enable Google Assistant. According to another part of the code, OEMs will be able to decide whether it listens for keywords, or if it’s activated by pressing a button.
Just don’t get too excited as this might not get implemented. Google Assistant code for ChromeOS has been spotted before, but this is the first time we’ve seen a reference to a code commit. While the Pixelbook is a stunning device, many folks choose Chromebooks as an inexpensive web and email machine or basic PC for family members. Having the Assistant, then, will make them a lot more useful for that crowd.
The Pixelbook has done a lot to renew interest in the company’s ChromeOS platform. One big feature of the Pixelbook is being able to use the Google Assistant right from your laptop. Will this change be a cause for concern? Well, as of right now there’s no indication that any of the Chromebooks will take advantage of this with their upcoming releases. But then why change the code so it’s enabled on the Chromebooks if you’re not going to use it? And is this even a good idea? I mean, the whole point of the Chromebooks is to act as an inexpensive alternative. Will this make the Chromebooks more expensive?
The commit shows that Assitant will be disabled by default on ChromeOS, with OEMs having the easy option of enabling the functionality if they choose to do so. A further setting will allow the ability to toggle on or off the always-listening “OK Google” and “Hey Google” hotwords. Apparently, it won’t be too hard to add a dedicated Assistant button either, just like on the Pixelbook.
While I like the idea of being able to use Google Assistant on the Chromebook, it makes me wonder why this wasn’t done from the beginning. Sometimes, I find that devices will be created in a way that demonstrates a clear difference from other models. The iPhone X is a good example of this. There are far more features on the X, than are on the 8 model. The 8, is obviously much more inexpensive, but in both cases, you have an iPhone. What I wouldn’t want to see is the iPhone 8 suddenly being equipped with FaceID just because people complained about it or felt it was something they wanted. I doubt this is possible, but I think you can appreciate the analogy. Because of that, I wonder if it’s a good move for Google to enable their Assistant feature on the Chromebook, or if it should be kept on Pixelbooks only? But maybe I’m blowing all of this out of proportion, and it’s not even going to happen, as it’s just speculation at this point.