While Canadians are finally celebrating the arrival of
Bard Gemini after a lengthy delay, unfortunately, Canada still doesn’t have access to the latest and greatest Gemini features. Namely, that’s the new Gemini Android app and related features that are transforming U.S. Android into full-fledged AI devices.
Google confirmed to MobileSyrup that the new Gemini smartphone experience would expand to Canada “soon,” which hopefully means it won’t be as long a wait as it was for Gemini. That said, it’s worth taking a peak at what we’re missing out on.
The Gemini experience on Android involves a new Gemini app and new shortcuts. U.S. Android owners should see the new Gemini app appear on their devices today, assuming their device meets the minimum requirements (4GB or more RAM and Android 12 or newer). Like many Google apps, Gemini is actually part of the existing Google app, and the new app icon serves as a shortcut to the Gemini experience within the Google app. That also means the new Gemini app on the Play Store does little more than add the app shortcut to your device.
Along with the app shortcut, Android is getting several ways to access Gemini. That includes long-pressing the power button, swiping diagonally from the corners, or using the ‘Hey Google’ hotword. In other words, all the shortcuts for activating Assistant will now trigger Gemini instead. That said, you’ll need to opt-in to using Gemini first. Interestingly, Gemini also has a voice in the app and, thanks to Google’s generative AI creating responses that feel more like natural language, using Gemini feels more like a natural conversation than Assistant did.
Activating Gemini also calls up a contextual ‘overlay’ panel that lets you pull in information from what’s on your screen. For example, you could attach a screenshot or photo and ask Gemini to do something related to that screenshot, such as generating a caption for the image.
Other existing Gemini features are available within the smartphone app too. That includes Extensions, which allow Gemini to draw information from various Google services like Maps and YouTube, Double-check for verifying responses via Google search, and more. Beyond those features, Gemini can handle some classic Assistant features like smart home controls, setting timers, and making calls. Google is working to support more features “in the future.”
The iOS version of the Google app is getting a new toggle for switching between Google Search and Gemini in the U.S., though there’s less direct integration with what’s happening on your iPhone compared to the Android version.
Hopefully, there won’t be as significant a delay before Canadians get the Gemini smartphone app. And there likely won’t be, considering why Gemini arrived in Canada so late. Google attributed the delay to it wanting to get the Québécois language right and also to issues it had with the Canadian government’s Online News Act, Bill C-18. But with the government resolving “core issues” with C-18, Google said it “cleared the path for launching Gemini in Canada.”
Image credit: Google