Troubleshooting an Android phone can now be as easy as installing an app from Google, if you’ve got the right kind of device.
On Wednesday, Google released Device Asssist on the Google Play Store. It’s a new app that combines troubleshooting recommendations, tips about how to navigate Android 5.0, and a way to call tech support in one simple app. Unfortunately, the new helper tool only works on Nexus, Google Play Experience, and Android One devices — the phones where [company]Google[/company] largely dictates the presentation of the operating system software.
Android One devices are a class of inexpensive phones targeted at developing markets, so it’s not like this app is only available to the kind of tech-savvy early adopters who prefer Nexus and Google Play Experience phones. But for the moment, Device Assist only works on a small fraction of Android phones.
What’s great about Device Assist? It tries to tell you what is wrong with your phone.
When you open it up, it brings you to a page called Detected Issues, which offers hints to get your phone working again. For instance, from time to time it’ll suggest that you reboot your phone. If you’ve got an issue that settings can’t fix, there’s a button to contact support that lets you request a call back from someone who can help.
I pressed that button — and received a call from a Google support representative in less than 30 seconds. The button throws you into Google Play’s phone support system, which has been around for a few years. But when Dan, my representative, tried to help me, he already had a good deal of information about my device, aware that it was a Nexus 5 and that the battery was in fact charging but low (as well as items like the fact my phone wasn’t rooted.) He didn’t have to ask questions about my phone, which made the support call go a lot smoother.
Ultimately, my personal Nexus phone didn’t have any issues, so the app portion of Device Assist merely asked me to turn on adaptive brightness (which I keep off because of a personal preference) and gave me a few tips about how Google Now works. But if you find yourself as unofficial tech support for your friends and family, and they’ve got a compatible phone, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install Device Assist on their phones so they can fix their problems themselves.