Google Assistant could let users skip ‘Hey, Google’ and go straight to common tasks: Expand ‘Active Listening’ wake words with ‘Quick Phrases’?

Google Assistant Quick Phrases Salsas
Google Assistant could have a lot many Wake Words. Pic credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Google Assistant seems to be getting ‘Quick Phrases’. The feature essentially allows users of the virtual, always-on, and internet-connected virtual assistant to skip the ‘Hey, Google’ hotword.

Android smartphone users could soon skip the ‘Hey, Google’ verbal activation and directly deliver commands to the search’s assistant digital assistant. The Quick Phrases features significantly expand the keywords that the Google Assistant is actively listening for.

Quick phrases will let users perform a wide range of tasks without saying the “Hey Google” hotword first:

Just like Apple has ‘Hey Siri’, Amazon has ‘Alexa’, Google Assistant has ‘Hey, Google’. All these words are audio cues for the digital assistants to start actively listening for incoming verbal commands or requests.

Moving ahead, Google could allow Assistant users to skip the “Hey, Google” hot word, and head straight to their queries or instructions. The feature surfaced back in April under the codename “Guacamole.”

Google has previously offered a ‘Voice Shortcuts’ page to some users. The page appeared in Google Assistant’s settings page. It merely directed users to internal Google documentation for a feature codenamed Guacamole.

It appears the feature will arrive as “Quick Phrases”, and it will allow users to ditch the “Hey Google” hot-word for common voice interactions. Needless to mention, Google hasn’t officially launched the feature.

However, a new menu in the experimental version of Google Assistant shows a much broader range of tasks. This time, Google has reportedly codenamed the keyphrases as “Salsas”.

Currently, these Quick Phrases or salsas include the ability to ask about the weather, skip songs, or set alarms and timers in addition to just silencing them.

How to use ‘Quick Phrases’ in Google Assistant to skip the ‘Hey, Google’ keyphrase?

Since Google hasn’t officially launched the Quick Phrases or Salsas, it is not clear how the feature will work in the final release. Nonetheless, it seems users will need to individually enable specific commands to get them to work without the ‘Hey, Google’ wake word.

Google could also be looking at voiceprint identification and matching for the Quick Phrases. Another menu item suggests that users can set the phrases to work across other Google Assistant devices in addition to their own phone.

The simplest way Quick Phrases or Salsas work is by expanding the list of wake phrases an Assistant device is actively listening for. Previously, Google Assistant’s mic was on, but it “woke up” only after a user said “Hey, Google” or “OK, Google” wake phrase.

Moving ahead, users could merely add “What time is it?” as one of the Quick Phrases. Thereafter, the Assistant would also “actively listen” for this key phrase, and respond accordingly.

Currently, the Quick phrases reportedly include:

  • 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 the 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”

Although the feature does sound convenient, a few privacy experts have expressed their concerns. Still, the company has put in certain, specific Quick Phrases, which might prevent unneeded or accidental activations.

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