Google Assistant gets extended device support, added languages

Google wants you to be able to use its Assistant software at the press of a button. So the search giant is bringing that dedicated button to new phones, the company said Sunday at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Google has struck deals with some of the biggest Android phone makers to include a dedicated Google Assistant button on their new handsets — whether users want one or not.

The upshot is that new devices such as LG’s new flagship, the LG G8 ThinQ, Nokia’s 3.2 and 4.2 and Xiaomi’s 5G Mi Mix 3 will have a dedicated button on the side of the devices which will launch Google’s AI helper.

The button is also coming to new phones by TCL and Vivo, including the V15 Pro, said Google.

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Because of the partnerships, Google said it expects 100 million devices to launch with a dedicated Assistant button.

“We’re trying to make the Assistant feel like it’s really a part of the phone, instead of just some app you go to,” Scott Huffman, head of engineering for the Assistant, said in an interview.

Google is also bringing support for its bilingual Assistant to more languages. This allows you to seamlessly switch between two languages. Until now, this only worked for English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Italian. Today, the company is adding Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch to this lineup.

In addition, the Assistant now speaks eight new Indic languages: Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Urdu.

Besides the new languages, Google is also bringing Actions — Google’s version of what Amazon calls skills in the Alex ecosystem — to Android Go and KaiOS. Developers can build these actions in 19 languages across 29 locales now.

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