PSA: Google Assistant says it’s “Offline” when you’re on a VPN, but everything still works
Google Assistant is one of the most advertised features for the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, although there are ways to enable it on non-Pixel Nougat devices as well as on non-Nougat devices. Although Google has currently restricted official compatibility to a very small subset of Android devices, you can still get full use out of Assistant through these unofficial mods. Assistant is still clearly undergoing lots of changes, as many of the features shown off during the October 4th event have yet to make their way into the production build of the service. Though, we at XDA have been having some fun with the IFTTT integration that was recently released.
A few users have noticed a peculiar, yet ultimately benign bug in Google Assistant. If you regularly make use of VPN on your Android device, you will find that Google Assistant seemingly falls back to working only in offline mode. The choice of device does not matter nor does the means of getting Assistant working in the first place (eg. via build.prop edits or Xposed module), as the bug seems to be Google Assistant related. We say that the bug is benign because despite warning you that Google Assistant is in offline mode, everything still seems to work just fine. Some users of ad-blocking software that relies of creating a VPN are reporting that Assistant is not working for them, but we haven’t been able to corroborate that claim.
In any case, to recreate the bug simply turn on any VPN connection (in my testing even Google’s WiFi Assistant seems to trigger the bug) and open up Google Assistant. There you have it: in case you were confused why Google Assistant is saying you’re offline, it’s because of a bug triggered by whatever VPN you’re currently running.