At last year’s I/O event, Google introduced the “next generation” Google Assistant that would run locally on phones and make the smart helper priceless data up-to 10x faster than the original Assistant. The local Assistant was set to debut on the Pixel 4 and word has it that the new Nest Mini comes equipped with the feature as well. According to Google, the new Assistant scales the AI model from 100GB down to less than half a gigabyte to easily live on your mobile device. – The Keyword
At this point, it’s unclear which, if any, devices outside the Pixel line have the new Assistant but today we discovered that it will be headed to Chromebooks in the near future. The flag turned up in the Canary channel of Chrome OS today after an update to the latest iteration of 85. Enabling the flag doesn’t appear to have any effect on the Assistant on Chrome OS at the moment but I think it’s safe to presume the feature will work in a similar manner to the Pixel. After a little digging around in the repository, I was able to find the commit attached to this feature and also discovered that boards based on ‘Kukui‘, a.k.a. the Lenovo Chromebook Duet tablet will have the feature on by default.
The flag is set to expire in Chrome OS 88 which generally means the feature will be launched and enabled prior to that release but the developer comments state that 88 was an arbitrary choice in this case. That means the feature could launch further down the road but I suspect it will be here sooner than later. I suspect that most users won’t notice a difference in the current Assistant and the new one but I could be wrong. I don’t really use the Assistant on my Chromebook and she seems fast enough on my OnePlus 8 but who knows, this seemingly minor tweak could make a world of difference for those who use the Assistant on Chrome OS regularly.