If you recall, the Google Assistant, initially unveiled at Google I/O 2016, is a conversational personal voice assistant powered by AI developed over the course of many years. It’s contextual, so if you ask it “What’s the weather today?” and receive a response, you can follow up by saying “How about in Nashville?” and the Assistant will know how to answer. This is just one example of what Google has enabled the Assistant of doing as third parties can also develop for the platform, fun easter eggs can be found throughout, and even your smart home can be controlled via your voice.
So why only make the Assistant available for Pixel users? Surely many would appreciate it if you made it available to everyone? Well, while we don’t have that exact answer, we do know how Google keeps (or at least try to keep) it exclusive to their smartphones, and that’s via the Pixel’s build.prop.
To know which features to enable and which not to, the Google app searches your device’s build.prop file buried inside the /system directory to identify which device you own. For instance, if your build.prop says you have a Nexus 6P, the Google app will recognize this and won’t enable the Assistant during operation. But if your device identifies as a Pixel or Pixel XL, the Google app will respond by granting you access to the Assistant. Therefore, by changing your build.prop, you can trick the Google app into thinking you have a Pixel when you really don’t.
For those with root, you can manually change the build.prop yourself by typing in the line below, but I won’t go into detail about this as that’s not the purpose of this guide. This How-To is for those without root and wanna be able to use the Assistant on their device. And surprisingly, it’s a pretty simple process.
Your only requirements are that you have a device with Android 7.0 Nougat or higher and a custom recovery installed such as TWRP. Of course, you can also perform this over ADB or Fastboot, but using a custom recovery is a lot easier.
XDA developer FaserF has uploaded three files: GoogleAssistantVelvet.zip, GoogleAssistantBuildProp.zip, and tweak.prop. By downloading each file to your device via their appropriate links, flashing the two ZIPs, rebooting, and clearing the Google app’s cache, you’ll gain access to the Assistant since your build.prop will be edited so it indicates you’re using a Pixel. It’s worth noting that you need to flash the GoogleAssistantVelvet.zip first and the GoogleAssistantBuildProp.zip second as you don’t want to make the mistake of flashing vice versa.