Google Assistant Planning Quick Phrase Commands Without Wake Word
Google Assistant users won’t need to use ‘OK Google’ or other wake words to give commands to the voice assistant, according to a 9to5 Google report. The upcoming ‘quick phrases’ feature is still in development but could mark a big shift in how people issue orders to Google Assistant.
Quick phrases essentially skip the necessity for a wake word to alert Google Assistant and prepare it to carry out the command. The software lists around 20 commands that can be set up to work without a wake word, with users able to pick which ones are active at any given time and on which devices. The orders relate to setting up and canceling alarms, asking about the time and weather, operating smart lights, controlling music, and communication tools like the phone and message broadcasting. To keep the quick phrases under the control of the device owner, Google Assistant relies on the Voice Match vocal identification tool. The quick phrases feature was discovered by an investigation into the under-development software codenamed Guacamole, with the specific commands that won’t need wake words called ‘salsas.’ The option was called ‘voice shortcuts’ in previous documentation, but otherwise is the same.
Quick phrases seem designed to build on the Continued Conversation element added to Google Assistant first in 2018 for Android and smart speakers before coming to smart displays a year later. Continued Conversation allows users to add additional commands to their Google Assistant orders without having to say the wake word after each individual request. The idea is to make interactions with Google Assistant more natural and comfortable, without the repetition common to giving orders to a machine. Also of note is that these quick phrases are all processed on-device, with no need to use the cloud. That’s important since adding to the list of words Google Assistant has to listen for means using more energy and requiring more frequent battery charging. Keeping the whole process on the device also reduces potential privacy infringement in the case of accidental awakenings, something Google has admitted can be a problem on occasion.