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Here’s how Google Assistant’s upcoming ‘Quick phrases’ will let you skip ‘Hey Google’

Back in April, we told you about an in-development “Guacamole” feature that will let you use Assistant without hotwords. This Google Assistant capability will launch as “Quick phrases,” and we now know more about how it works.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

The last time this feature accidentally showed up it was codenamed “Guacamole” and known as “Voice shortcuts.” We’ve now managed to enable the Assistant settings page for “Quick phrases,” with the feature description unchanged:

Skip saying “Hey Google” for help with specific tasks 

Codenames are still in use on the preferences we enabled, with “salsas” being the “specific tasks” that will work without you having to say the hotword. Users will have to select which ones they want enabled, and Google notes how they “will work just for you” through Voice Match user recognition. 

The ones you “add” will appear in the “Your salsas” section above, while there’s a menu and carousel to select from at the bottom. In our screenshot, we see the available action and phrase, though “common variations will also work.” 

They are categorized under: Recommended, Alarms, Connect, General info, Lights, Media Controls, Timers, To-Dos.

  • Set alarms: “Set an alarm for 7 a.m.”
  • Cancel alarms: “Cancel the alarm”
  • Show alarms: “What time is my alarm set for?”
  • Send broadcasts: “Send a broadcast”
  • Respond to calls: “Answer” & “Decline”
  • Ask about time: “What time is it?”
  • Ask about weather: “What’s the weather?”
  • Turn lights on & off: “Turn the lights on”
  • Turn lights up & down: “Increase the brightness”
  • Control volume: “Turn up the volume”
  • Pause & resume music: “Pause the music”
  • Skip tracks: “Skip this song”
  • Set timers: “Set a timer for 2 minutes”
  • Cancel timers: “Cancel the timer”
  • Pause & resume timers: “Pause the timer”
  • Reset timers: “Reset the timer”
  • Show timers: “How much time is left?”
  • Reminders: “Create a reminder”
  • Family notes: “Create a family note”

Once complete, the very last part of this page will list “Devices where Assistant can respond to your salsas.” It’s currently unfinished, but we’ve seen a reference to “This phone” higher up and there’s an explicit mention about how other users can set up salsas in the Google Home app or Assistant settings. This suggests that Smart Displays and speakers will also be able to go hotword-free.

From what we know about this feature, what could be happening behind the scenes is that Nest speakers/Smart Displays will go from just always-listening for “Hey/Ok Google” to also seeking out user-specified Quick phrases. It comes as Google previously shared how the Nest Mini, Audio, and 2nd-gen Nest Hub feature a “High-performance ML hardware engine” that processes your most frequent commands on-device for a faster experience.

That said, it’s currently unclear what devices will support Google Assistant Quick phrases, or when it will launch.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk:

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