One of the many features Chromebooks have adopted from Android devices in recent years is the Google Assistant, which you can use for finding documents, changing settings, taking screenshots, setting reminders and a lot more.
However, depending on your network connection, the Google Assistant might not be as quick to respond as you might like. Fortunately, according to a new flag that Chrome Unboxed discovered in the Canary channel release of Chrome OS 85, the feature may be getting a serious speed boost in the near future (via Ubergizmo).
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How is Google going to achieve this speed boost? Using the same method it first rolled out on its Pixel devices last year. Instead of having to reach out to the cloud every time you ask Google Assistant something, the voice assistant will process the requests directly on the device.
This will dramatically reduce the amount of time required for the Assistant to both respond to you and take action, which makes for a vastly better user experience and will likely lead to more users taking advantage of the Google Assistant on Chromebooks.
While the feature will likely find its way onto many Chromebooks when it is officially released, in this instance, the commit was associated with the "Kukui" board that is Google's designation for the MediaTek MT8183 processor found in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and other lower-end Chromebooks. At present, enabling the feature does not appear to have an effect, so we'll be watching for any change with future Canary channel releases.
According to Chrome Unboxed, the flag is set to expire with the Chrome OS 88 update, which could mean that this is when we would see the feature generally released. The schedule for the Chrome OS releases has been slightly off due to the pandemic making it harder to predict when that might arrive. On the current trajectory, Chrome OS 88 would be released sometime early next year, although it's possible Google would hold the feature for a Google I/O 2021 release.