A new update to the Google app on Android devices allows some Google Assistant voice commands to be performed without first saying, “Hey Google.” The new Guacamole menu allows certain quick tasks, such as alarms, timers and calls to be handled quicker. So, to cancel an alarm you can just say “stop”, rather than “Hey Google, stop alarm.” While answering the phone can be as simple as saying, “answer the call.”
While this feature, known as voice shortcuts, has been available on Google Nest devices since 2019, this is the first time we have seen it coming to mobile devices. Voice prompts have become such a common way to talk to our phones and smart speakers that it barely feels strange anymore to shout, “Alexa, set timer”, or “Hey Siri, how many carbs are in a cup of rice”, or even “GoPro start video.”
Some may worry that removing the prompt may cause more confusion, or mean the device is listening more. But if you have your voice assistant function on, it’s always listening and while there’s bound to be mistakes, I’ve lost track of the times a smart device has tried to join in on a conversation already.
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The Google voice shortcuts feature was initially only available for employees but according to Android Police (opens in new tab), has now appeared on some users' devices with version 22.214.171.124 running Android 11. The feature appears as Guacamole in the Settings menu and users need to read and opt-in to the terms and conditions before activating.