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Google Brings Major New Feature Boost to Older Android Phones

TL;DR: Google’s Gemini AI app now supports Android 10 and 11 devices, expanding access to millions of users. With Samsung also bringing AI features to older phones, Google may announce further Gemini updates and wider device support at I/O 2024. The event’s schedule heavily emphasizes AI, with Gemini mentioned 20 times, hinting at its growing importance in the Android ecosystem.

Following Samsung’s surprise AI announcement, Google is now rolling out the Gemini app to even more Android users.

When the company first announced the Gemini for Android app earlier this year, it said it would only be for devices running Android 12 and up. But now the latest version of Gemini for Android—v1.0.626720042—can be installed via the Play Store for older devices running Android 10 and Android 11.

Spotted on Twitter/X by @isumantadas, tests by Artem Russakovskii from Android Police and 9To5Google show that Gemini does indeed work on phones running Android 10 and 11, and the experience is just as functional as it is on a newer handset.

This is a big move by Google, not least because both operating systems are still wildly popular. Android 10 and 11 currently make up 8.82% and 16.57% of the global Android install base respectively. That’s millions of devices that now have access to Google’s latest AI technology.

It’s a game-changer.

Potential for Wider Support

This could also potentially be good news for users of older Pixel phones and devices from other Android brands. Will more handsets get Circle to Search at some point? Or other Pixel-exclusive AI-powered features? Gemini’s support page says that a device running the app needs 4GB of RAM to run properly—a lot of devices fall into that bracket. It will be interesting to see how far Google can push Gemini, and Gemini-related tools, to phones deep in the Android universe.

Both Google and Samsung have surprised users by rolling out headline AI tools to older phones. Recently Samsung announced that its Galaxy S23 range would be updated with Live Translate, Circle to Search, Note Assist, generative image editing, and some other AI features. A month later it announced that the Galaxy S22 series would get the same update.

Only four months ago those tools were exclusive to the Galaxy S24. Google also consistently updates older devices with new features via its Feature Drop program, so there’s a precedent here that may bear more fruit in the future. This shouldn’t be a surprise, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has already declared that we are in the “Gemini Era”, back in January.

Google has yet to confirm the Gemini update. But I imagine that the company will be holding tight until next month’s I/O Conference where we can expect a raft of Gemini announcements.

The future is bright.

Update April 29th: I/O Schedule Reveals AI Focus

Google has now published its schedule for I/O 2024 and, as expected, AI will feature heavily in the speeches and announcements. There are, of course, no specifics on the content of the speeches, but Gemini will be mentioned a few times by several speakers in different areas. On the I/O schedule site, “Gemini” is mentioned 20 times.

Google says that Gemini will play a role in building “next-gen AI apps” and further integrate with Maps. There’s also a promise that we will learn about “what’s new” with the Gemini API and how generative AI works with the upcoming Android 15 operating system.

I suspect Google will officially confirm that Gemini is now available on Android 10 and 11 at I/O. But that will be part of a wider announcement about new features, which might come to older devices too. There has been a clear pattern from Samsung and Google when it comes to rolling out new AI features to older devices. Neither company will want to miss out on making the most out of an obvious marketing opportunity.

Exciting times ahead.


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