Google's intrepid AI Assistant may be arriving on Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices as early as September 10, based on a change to the Chromium Gerrit spotted this week. The code alteration in question changes a single line related to "ChromeOSAssistant" which read "FEATURE_DISABLED_BY_DEFAULT" and now indicates that, at least in the experimental Canary Channel, that's "ENABLED" by default.
That should indicate that Chrome OS gadgets will begin seeing the Chrome OS variant of Google Assistant, previously relegated to a select handful of devices, effectively across the board as of version 77.
Google Assistant on Chromebooks
This change follows on nearly three-quarters of a year after commits were spotted in the Gerrit that pointed to "all" Chromebooks gaining access to the AI-empowered voice assistant back in October of last year. At the time, that was buried beneath hidden flag settings in Chrome OS' comparatively inaccessible Canary Channel and only appeared for a few devices.
The only device that has had access to Google Assistant consistently and by default has been the search giant's own gadgets, the tablet-format Pixel Slate and the 2-in-1 convertible Pixelbook.
That meant that accessing the feature required users to move their gadget into developer mode, turn off certain system-level security features, and then search out settings from a fairly long list of options. While the latter part of that process is straightforward, it's not an easy task overall and not one that the overwhelming majority of users should attempt.
With the latest change, the feature should essentially appear across the board for Chromebooks that are still getting updates.
Where's Chrome OS 75?
Google Assistant on Chrome OS will arguably make the operating system much more desirable since it's another step in catching up to leading competitors Apple and Microsoft.
The company has already been working to bring seamless integration between its Android mobile OS and Chrome for some time, seeking to level the playing field on that front. With Assistant on board, users will be able to speak to their computer in a similar fashion to how they already do on the mobile OS too, lining all Chromebooks up with the current software standard set by Google's flagships.
Whether or not Google is capable of both completing the changeover and delivering by the scheduled date may be another matter entirely, however. Chrome OS has consistently lagged behind other Chrome updates over the course of its existence by several weeks but the company recently broke with its historical scheduling for Chrome OS 75.
While the new version has been rolling out or available on mobile and desktop since around June 4, the update for Chromebooks still hasn't arrived. That was scheduled to begin rolling out on January 11 but Google hasn't released any news about it in the interim.
The update is planned to fix a plethora of issues plaguing tablets running Chrome OS and bugs with that may be the reason for its delay but it could also indicate that fragmentation is growing. So pinning a date on the Google Assistant feature doesn't make much sense at this point.