Google Assistant is pretty ubiquitous already, with availability on phones, smart speakers, displays, and more recently, Chromebooks. With the Pixel 4, Google was able to shrink the Assistant down so much that it could run locally (instead of entirely in the cloud), and now that same feature is coming to Chrome OS.
Traditionally, when you send a request to Assistant, that request is processed in the cloud on Google’s servers. This means the speed of the Assistant’s response is determined by the current internet speed—slower connections mean longer wait times. That’s why moving the Assistant to an on-device model was so important for Google because digital assistants are all about efficiency. You’re more likely to use something that is fast, plain and simple.
A new flag in the Chrome OS Canary channel found by Chrome Unboxed indicates that this on-device Assistant model will also be coming to Chrome OS. 9to5Google dug into this a bit more to find that the feature is codenamed “Marble” and was able to further clarify that it “enables on-device Assistant to handle the most common queries.”
So that’s the key here: the most common. It’s unclear what that means, but I’m sure that Google has all the data it needs to verify the most common requests. Ultimately, for users this means two things: Assistant will ping Google’s servers less often, and it will be faster. That’s a win-win.
It’s also unclear when this will show up in the Chrome OS stable channel, especially considering it’s still a flag on the Canary channel, but 9to5 also points out that it looks like the feature will first show up on devices running the MediaTek MT8183 chip, like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.