A staggering proportion of the global population owns smartphones, but access is far from universal. Google is partnering with carrier Vodafone-Idea to bring Assistant access to users in India who either don't have smartphones or reliable mobile data in a clever, old-school way: over the phone.
Vodafone-Idea customers will be able to call a number to talk to the Google Assistant, sans internet access. Results won't be personalized the way they are on smart devices, but users can ask general questions and get info about things like weather, traffic, and sports scores.
The service isn't available yet, but it's set to roll out across all of India in both Hindi and English. It's limited to Vodafone-Idea customers, but the company is one of the largest telecommunications operators in the country, and the calls will be free.