I am so over yelling in complete sentences to the Google Assistant. Although I run all the digital assistants—it’s my job, you know—Google primarily controls my smart home. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to yell out a complete command while strapping down your toddler during a full-blown meltdown. Fortunately, Quick Phrases let you shout out key commands without saying a wake phrase first. And they may soon be customizable.
Quick phrases originally rolled out to the Nest Hub Max last week and were already available on the Pixel 6. But the software sleuths at 9to5Google discovered evidence of the ability to set custom Quick Phrases beyond the pre-suggested ones. When the ability becomes available, assuming the evidence pans out, you’ll see a “Create your own” section materialize toward the bottom of the Quick phrases feature page. It’s not currently live, but it’s something to look forward to.
The real bummer is that I don’t have a Nest Hub Max to take advantage of the feature, which won’t be coming to any more devices as of yet. This means I will continue to bark out a loud, raucous “HEY GOOGLE” to get the backroom lights to turn off (I have no idea why they keep turning on). Google even bookmarked this specific example for me to set up since I often ask it.
Here’s how to set up Quick Phrases if you have a Nest Hub Max in your smart home, so you can be ready to set up custom ones. First, make sure you’ve updated your Google app in the Play Store. Then, head into the app’s Settings, which you can access by tapping on your Google profile image, and keep scrolling until you see Quick Phrases. It’s nestled between Purchases and Radio.
If you’ve accessed the feature, you’ll see a page of pre-recommended Quick Phrases populated below the header. Google suggested I ask, “what’s the weather today” instead of the usual command I blurt out when trying to get my daughter dressed in the mornings. It also offered a specific command to one that I often utter, which is to “set the back room light to 20%.” It’s the perfect percentage for watching TV in that room at dusk.
There are four categories of Quick Phrases, and they’re limited to two variants each. The features you can adjust or access with them include alarms, general information, timers, and controlling the lights. For general information, you’re limited to the time and the weather. For lights, you can merely turn them off and on or up and down. And for alarms and timers, you can set them up and then cancel them without the whole “Hey Google” rigamarole.
Now, if only Google could make this ability compatible with third-party models of its smart speakers and displays. I currently use the Lenovo Smart Clock in each bedroom, but it likely lacks the necessary camera and microphone sensors that enable the ability. Google uses those components to tell if you’re nearby and looking at the device.