As part of a new feature that’s expected to get a wider release later this fall, Google’s new “Quick Phrases” will soon allow people to perform a ton of voice commands without saying “OK, Google” or “Hey Google,” first.
According to XDA Developers, Quick Phrases has started showing up on a handful of devices, which suggests that a wider rollout is imminent. Meanwhile, the idea behind Quick Phrases is straightforward: allowing people to respond to common situations with short voice commands while skipping wake words entirely.
Now technically, we’ve seen Google explore the ability to skip wake words on Google Assistant smart devices, as you can already silence timers simply by saying “stop” after it goes off. However, with the upcoming rollout of Quick Phrases, Google is adding a bunch of new commands to the list.
The downside is that if we’re talking strictly about phones, the number of supported commands is much more limited, with people only being able to respond to an incoming call by saying “answer” or “decline,” or responding to an alarm by saying “stop” or “snooze.” To enable Quick Phrases, all you’ll have to do is search for the Quick Phrases option in your Android 12 phone’s setting menu, after which you can toggle on Quick Phrases for responding to alarms or incoming calls individually.
However, for Google Assistant smart home devices like the Nest Hub, Nest Audio, or Nest Mini, 9to5Google says there are more than 15 different commands that you’ll be able to perform without saying “Hey Google,” first. So far, the Quick Phrase commands that have been discovered are:
- Setting alarms by saying “Set an alarm for 6 AM.”
- Canceling alarms by saying “Cancel the alarm.”
- Asking for alarm times by saying “What time is my alarm set for?”
- Setting timers by saying “Set a timer for X minutes.”
- Controlling timers by saying “Cancel the timer,” “pause the timer,” or “reset the timer.”
- Showing timers by saying “How much time is left?”
- Sending a voice broadcast by saying “Send a broadcast.”
- Responding to calls by saying “answer” or “decline.”
- Checking the time by saying “What time is it?”
- Checking the weather by saying “What’s the weather?”
- Controlling lights by saying “Turn the lights on/off,” or “Increase/decrease the brightness.”
- Adjusting music volume by saying “Turn up/turn down the volume.”
- Controlling music by saying “Pause/Play the music,” or “skip this song.”
- Creating reminders by saying “Create a reminder.”
- Making family notes by saying “Create a family note.”
While you may not make use of every command, for people who like to cook, I’ve found that the Google Assistant is a really helpful tool in the kitchen for setting timers to make sure you don’t forget about that loaf of bread in the oven, and with Quick Phrases, it looks like we’re going to have even more freedom to set and control timers.
However, the big test for Quick Phrases will be how often the Google Assistant gets confused or misidentifies commands because by skipping the wake word, the Google Assistant will need to more accurately differentiate regular household speech from intentional voice commands.
Currently, it’s unknown when Google will officially release Quick Phrases, but with the feature already showing up on a handful of devices, I’d expect to see Quick Phrases get announced sometime in the next couple of months, and definitely before the end of the year.