Google announces Google Assistant for iOS as a standalone app, rolling out to the U.S. first. Until now, the only way iPhone users could access Google Assistant was through Allo, the Google messaging app nobody uses. Google Assistant for iPhone requires iOS 9.1 or higher.
Scott Huffman, vice president of Google Assistant engineering, made the announcement onstage. He also revealed that Google Assistant is already available on over 100 million Android devices. That’s Google’s way of hinting to developers that they should start building for the tool.
Huffman also added that Google Assistant is becoming available in more languages on both Android and iOS (it’s still English-only today). Support for French, German, Brazilian-Portuguese, and Japanese is coming later this summer while Italian, Spanish, and Korean will be available by the end of the year.
Google’s Assistant is already built into the Google Pixel, Google Home, Google Allo, Android Wear, and recent Android phones. Unlike those, Google Assistant for iPhone won’t ship on Apple’s mobile devices by default, and naturally won’t be as tightly integrated into the OS.
But it is addressable by voice and does work with other Google apps on Apple’s platform. Apple has API restrictions on iOS, so Google Assistant can’t set alarms like Siri can. It can, however, send iMessages for you or start playing music in third-party apps like Spotify. You also won’t be able to use the Home button to trigger Google Assistant, so you’ll need to use the app icon or a widget.
Google first introduced its Assistant last year at I/O, so it seems perfectly fitting to have the iPhone launch at the same venue. Last month, the company finally released the Google Assistant SDK, which you can expect we’ll hear a lot more about at this week’s event.