2023 saw generative AI become the biggest tech trend, driven by chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Although there are several ways to use ChatGPT on an Android phone, using OpenAI’s official ChatGPT app is the simplest. All you have to do to use the app is enter or speak a question, then wait a little while for the chatbot to process it and respond. It feels outdated to have to open the ChatGPT app manually to ask the chatbot a question after years of calling up the Google Assistant with a gesture or a word. Thankfully, code in the most recent iteration of the ChatGPT Android app indicates that OpenAI is aware of this issue and that you will be able to set it as your default assistant app.
With the introduction of ChatGPT version 1.2023.352 last month, com.openai.voice.assistant.AssistantActivity is a new activity. By default, the activity is inactive; however, upon manually activating and starting it, an overlay resembling the whirling animation seen during in-app voice chat mode displays on the screen. Unlike the in-app voice chat mode, this overlay appears over other apps and doesn’t occupy the whole screen. Presumably, you could use this assistant to communicate with ChatGPT from any screen. However, during my testing, the activity quickly terminated itself before I could have a conversation with the chatbot, and the animation never ended. This may be the result of an unfinished feature or an internal flag controlling the functionality.
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The fact that the code required for the app to appear as the “default digital assistant app” is only partially present suggests that the feature isn’t quite ready yet. The most recent iteration of the application includes an XML file called assistant_interaction_service, which has a voice-interaction-service tag that describes the recognition and session services. Additionally, the tag states that the service is assistive. It is not possible to establish the ChatGPT app as the “default digital assistant app” unless that service is defined with the necessary attributes and a metadata tag pointing to the previously specified XML.
But the existence of the aforementioned XML file suggests that OpenAI plans to use the app for just that purpose. By making the ChatGPT app the default digital assistant app for Android, users will be able to open it with a long press of the home button (if three-button navigation is being used) or a swipe up from the bottom corner (if gesture navigation is being used). Unfortunately, because such features require access to protected APIs that are only available to trusted preloaded apps, the ChatGPT app will still not be able to generate custom hot words or respond to ones that already exist.
However, it makes sense that OpenAI wants to make ChatGPT more accessible for Android users, considering that Google is set to introduce Assistant with Bard any day to prevent consumers from switching to Bard merely because it is more user-friendly.
With that, OpenAI appears to have another tactic up its sleeve to simplify the use of ChatGPT on Android devices. A Quick Settings tile was also introduced to the most recent version of the Android app; however, it is currently deactivated by default.
Based on the code seen in the app, it appears that ChatGPT’s new assistant mode is meant to be accessed quickly through the Quick Settings tile. The code also implies that a ChatGPT Plus subscription is needed to use this functionality, although we were unable to make the assistant activity or the Quick Setting tile function even with a current subscription.