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You can make Microsoft Copilot your default Android assistant now

If you're not happy with Google's Android assistant, you can now replace it with Copilot.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Copilot on Android
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Interested in having an AI bot as your Android phone's assistant? A new feature lets you kick Google Assistant to the curb and do just that.

In the latest beta version of the Microsoft Copilot app, you now can set it as your default assistant, replacing the built-in Google version. X user Mishaal Rahman was the first to spot the new option.

Also: The best AI chatbots

If you want to make Copilot your default assistant, you'll need to first download the Copilot app and join the beta. To do that, go to the app's listing on the Play Store and tap "Join the beta." Once you're in the beta program, head to your phone's settings page, then apps, then default apps, then digital assistant. You'll see the option to make Copilot your first choice.

Copilot can then be launched by either swiping diagonally from any corner or long-pressing the power button.

It's worth pointing out that since Copilot is a third-party app, it doesn't have the full integration that a built-in assistant would. It doesn't have an auto-listening mode that allows you to open it with your voice like Google does, and it can't take screenshots. Instead of appearing over the screen in a bubble like a traditional assistant, summoning it fully opens the app.

Copilot can still handle most of its traditional AI duties, but it doesn't appear to be able to handle a lot of on-device jobs yet, like adding an event to a calendar or opening another app. Since that type of task is what most people use their assistant for in the first place, you have to imagine that Microsoft is working on adding that functionality.

Also: Microsoft Copilot vs. Copilot Pro: Is the subscription fee worth it?

So what's the advantage of choosing Copilot over what's already built-in? 

Right now, it's mostly about potential. Google's Gemini AI is still in its fairly early stages and can be a little rough around the edges while Microsoft's AI is more refined. And given that Microsoft has already partnered with OpenAI several times, it seems feasible that Copilot could one day host ChatGPT

Since nothing has even officially been announced, it makes sense that things aren't fully operational yet. But once the bugs are worked out and Copilot can fully integrate with your phone, it's easy to see how the AI side of things could be tempting to switch.

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