'Hey, Google': the wake word's days are numbered – and I'm so happy

Google to introduce Look and Talk with facial recognition, so you don't need to shout 'Hey, Google' like a mad person

Google app on phone laying on keyboard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Hey, Google'. Hold up! I may never actually need utter those two words ever again – which makes me oh so happy. Because Google has, finally, realised that we don't all want to shout the big Goog word out into the open to summon its search charms. 

That's right: at Google I/O 2022, Google announced that a new feature, called Look and Talk, would be coming in the near future, removing the need for a wake word or phrase of any kind. Hurrah.

So how does that work? It sounds simple enough, really: using face match and voice match, in conjunction with your Google account, you'll just need to make eye contact with your smart device's camera – and I don't mean a shifty-eyed kind of glance, it'll ignore you otherwise, maligned as it feels for not being spoken to by name – and you're then free to jump straight in with your queries. 

No wake word, just natural conversation from the getgo. Oh yes. The 'Hey, Google' wake word has been one of the bugbears I've had with Google Assistant from the off – so I, for one, will be more than happy to see the theoretical end of it.

Google I/O

(Image credit: Google)

'Hey, Google' – is there no other way?

Of course removing the wake word doesn't remove the need to engage by voice, so you might look even crazier posing questions into the open air while out in public, but I'm sure people have seen stranger things (certainly in London anyway). So does it really make that much of a difference?

I think it will, yes, because Google's ambition – as it showed off in abundance at I/O 2022 – is all about more natural conversation, less awkward robotic and (daresay) patronising tones by which we typically seem to speak to our smart devices. 

That's because Google is also set to invest big in voice, advancing the ways in which Google Assistant can understand. A better comprehension of the glut of umms and arrs that sneak into everyday speech, for example, will mean more fluid conversations. 

In addition, Google's Quick Phrases – as it says on the tin: quick phrases recognised by Google Nest, also revealed at Google I/O 2022 – will enable easy, confident commands with specific kit in your setup. Nice job.

So maybe, just maybe, we'll quickly arrive at that sci-fi-esque future of talking to our smart devices more naturally in the future. But that then does beg the question: why did the wake word always have to be 'Hey, Google' in the first place? Either way, I think it's on the out, and good riddance (said from my happy place). 

As the Tech Editor at T3, Mike handles all things tech - from phones, tablets and laptops, to gaming and computing. Everything that's geeky yet cool. He's been working as a consumer technology journalist for the best part of 15 years, travelling the globe to attend all manner of industry events. You'll always find him setting up a new mobile phone or planning his next get-away.