While unveiling the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google showcased new features for the Google Assistant including “Quick phrases” that work without “Hey Google,” and a revamp for At a Glance.

For years now, Google has used their own hardware to showcase what the Google Assistant is capable of, with the first-generation Pixels being the first phones to truly integrate it. Each Pixel since has been a step up, most notably the Pixel 4’s “next-generation” Assistant, and the Pixel 6 is no different. As part of the Pixel Fall Launch event, among a bevy of other features made possible by the Pixel 6’s machine-learning-optimized Tensor chip, the Google Assistant also got a few upgrades, some more familiar than others.

In the smart home, Google’s Nest speakers and displays are able to listen for important, timely commands without you needing to say “Hey Google” first. A common situation for this is when a timer has completed, you can simply say “stop” to dismiss the alert. Starting with the Pixel 6, this same feature is becoming possible for the Google Assistant on smartphones, and being expanded into “Quick phrases.”

At launch, the Google Assistant’s Quick phrases will only be able to do very simple things, like “stop” a timer, “snooze” an alarm, or “answer”/”decline” an incoming call. In practice, these few commands should come in handy for common situations where you can’t quite put hands on your phone but need to stop it from ringing.

Meanwhile, the Assistant is also working to be more ambiently useful with a revamped At a Glance home/lock screen widget on Android 12.

Beyond the usual, simple displays like the current time, date, and weather, the Assistant-powered At a Glance widget is able to pull information from your calendar, including travel plans and even in some cases show useful info like the QR code for a boarding pass. More importantly, the At a Glance widget is scrollable, meaning you can swipe through the things your Assistant wants to remind you of.

Even these are just a piece of what Google is doing with the Assistant this year, with major enhancements coming to both Gboard and the Google Phone app. Just like every year before, the best new Google Assistant features are debuting on the Pixel 6. It’s not clear how long it will take for each new feature to arrive on older Pixels, if they arrive at all.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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