Last October, Google’s Pixelbook launched as harbinger for what will be the next evolution of Chrome OS devices. With it, we witnessed the first Chromebook with the Google Assistant built in and a physical Assistant key to boot.
Needless to say, when news began to spread this week that the Assistant is landing behind a new feature flag on Chrome OS, it came as no surprise.
XDA Developers dug up a commit adding the Assistant feature in the form of a flag in the Chromium repository. Digging deeper into the commit, we find that the feature will be disabled by default and will be paired with a voice interaction function that will also be switched off until enabled by the user.
There has been some speculation that this feature will be at the discretion of the OEM but that tends to break away from Google’s normal policy of Chromebooks being the same across the board.
More likely, this flag will stay disabled by default while developers work out the kinks. Then, like the Play Store, users will be prompted to activate the Assistant on their devices if they so choose to do so.
I’ll be poking around the Canary channel to see if I can get the Assistant up and running on a device and will report back as soon as we can update.