Update breaks Google Assistant on the Pixel 4

Update breaks Google Assistant on the Pixel 4
Google made some big changes to Google Assistant this year for the Pixel 4 series. First, it moved the processing on-device which makes the virtual digital helper more responsive. Google also shrunk down the size of the UI to prevent Assistant from taking over much of the Pixel's display. By all accounts, Pixel 4 users are happy with the changes, but there is some bad news for those who installed the latest beta version of the Google app.

According to 9to5 Google, version 10.90 of the Google app beta creates some issues when the user tries to launch Assistant on a Pixel 4. Swiping up from one of the bottom corners fails to awaken the AI helper although some might see a message that reads "Assistant will be ready soon." Other methods of activating Google Assistant such as calling out the "Ok Google" or "Hey Google" wakeword don't work and neither does tapping on the Assistant's icon in the Pixel Launcher's search bar.

The beta update started rolling out last night and doesn't affect features that are tied to Assistant such as the Updates page and Lens. Users can still get the weather, search for something, or listen to a podcast. Keep in mind that this issue is limited to Google Assistant on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.

There are a pair of workarounds. Users can uninstall the beta version of the Google app and install the stable version instead. Or, they can clear all data and storage for the Google app by going to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps > Google > Storage & cache > Clear storage > Clear all data. After doing this, you will have to start Google Assistant from scratch.

While Google Assistant is considered by many to be the best of the popular virtual digital helpers (it always seems to top Siri, Alexa, and Cortana in impartial tests), it has only 9% of the market. A report from Futuresource indicates that Siri has the largest share of the assistant market with 35%. That's because Siri is pre-installed on the iPhone and other products such as the AirPods Pro. Because Cortana is included with all Windows 10 PCs, Microsoft's assistant is second with a 22% slice of the pie. Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa are third and fourth with shares of 9% and 4% respectively.

The report notes that shipments of virtual assistants rose 25% year-over-year to reach 1.1 billion units. By 2023, the number of virtual assistants being shipped is forecast to reach 2.5 billion units. And Futuresource predicts that next year, for the first time, more devices with a virtual assistant will be shipped compared to the number shipped without the feature. Simon Forrest, Principal Technology Analyst at Futuresource Consulting says, "Growth presently continues unabated, as virtual assistants become a common feature across the Consumer Electronics and Automotive sectors. Indeed, 2020 will be the year when shipments of voice-enabled products overtake those with no voice capability."

Noting what Google was able to do with the Assistant on the Pixel 4 this year, Forrest adds, "Alongside the introduction of neural network accelerators in silicon chips powering consumer electronics products, this allows virtual assistants to begin to operate independently on the device itself, without always accessing the cloud. This leads to enhanced privacy and also enables advanced conversational ability, due to reduced latency overall.

The analyst also pointed out that Amazon has added emotions that Alexa conveys in her speech. "These advancements in voice technology may appear superficial at first," Forrest says. "However, a less robotic voice leads to consumers expecting more capability from their virtual assistant, leading to increased engagement."

Related phones

Pixel 4
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 2280 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64GB
  • Battery 2800 mAh
Pixel 4 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 3040 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64GB
  • Battery 3700 mAh

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16 Comments

1. ShortRave unregistered

Siri's 35% market share is very misleading. Just because it's installed doesn't mean it's being used. I know many people who never interact with Siri. "Siri doesn't understand me" is the common complaint. They don't know they can have Siri read text messages hands-free while driving either. Speaking as someone who owns an iPhone and has Google Assistant installed as well, I created a Siri shortcut to allow me to call upon Google Assistant because it's simply that much more usable and intelligent.

3. MsPooks

Posts: 311; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

Yay for fast updates!

4. meanestgenius

Posts: 22817; Member since: May 28, 2014

Whether it’s a beta update or a “finished” update from Google, they break functionality more often than not on Pixels. These are the most problematic smartphones in the Android ecosystem, amp anyone that says otherwise is in denial.

11. Venom

Posts: 3982; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Not as problematic as a slow processing camera or a charging port going out.

12. lyndon420

Posts: 6918; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

How about a sketchy charge port, and no more wireless charging on my LG V30... I do appreciate options though... android.

14. meanestgenius

Posts: 22817; Member since: May 28, 2014

Considering that Googles Pixels have suffered from: Camera shutdowns, Bluetooth connection failure, screen issues, phone randomly shutting off, and the plethora of other issues that pop up with every release of Pixel smartphones, then YES, Pixels are far more problematic. Pixels are THE MOST problematic Android smartphones, and documented facts that you continually are in denial about prove it.

5. Vancetastic

Posts: 1883; Member since: May 17, 2017

Interesting that the headline didn't include the word "beta". Seems like an important part of the story to me.

9. Venom

Posts: 3982; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Yup. Course it won't stop comments like comment 4 from rushing in and making ignorant comments without actually reading the article.

15. meanestgenius

Posts: 22817; Member since: May 28, 2014

I literally added “beta” into my comment. But you ignorantly glossed over that part in order to try and gain some clout. And next time, say my name instead of being afraid to and just referring to my comment.

7. inFla

Posts: 220; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

With all it's problems maybe the Pixel 4 rating of 9.0 should be dropped to about a 4.5. That's around where the Essential phone was and it had less problems.

8. lyndon420

Posts: 6918; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Agreed. Google started going downhill when they dropped the brilliant Nexus brand. Like seriously...the pixel just sounds so... (politically corrected/sans free speech)!! We must give thanks this Christmas, to those who protect us from...us!

10. Venom

Posts: 3982; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I miss the Nexus phones, even the 6P even though it was made by Huawei who has ties to the Chinese government.

16. meanestgenius

Posts: 22817; Member since: May 28, 2014

The 6P that was made by Huawei for Googles Nexus line (you know, Google who allows backdoors in their smartphones on behalf of the U.S. government) was arguably the best of the Nexus bunch, and the Nexus line was less problematic.

17. meanestgenius

Posts: 22817; Member since: May 28, 2014

InFla, Agreed. The Pixel 4 series deserves a much less rating than it has gotten.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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