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Google's compact, Pixel 4-like Assistant starts reaching older phones

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Cherlynn Low/Engadget

If you're not in a rush to get a Pixel 4 but would like a small taste of its Assistant upgrades, you're about to get your fix. Google is rolling out a compact, more Pixel 4-like version of its AI helper to older Android phones, so far focusing on Pixel 3 owners. The new version no longer monopolizes the screen when it provides an answer -- instead, it occupies only the space it needs. You might not feel quite so lost when you ask a question.

To be clear, this doesn't include everything you'll find in Assistant on the Pixel 4. It doesn't have the continued conversation or screen context features, for instance, and it certainly doesn't share the new look. Familiar interface elements are still there. This is more to reflect Google's new approach, which treats Assistant more as a background companion than a front-and-center experience. Even so, it's good to know that you don't have to buy Google's latest to get an obvious functional difference this quickly.