Some Google Assistant commands might soon work without "hey Google"

Google Assistant
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Since the very beginning, Google Assistant voice commands have been activated with a "hey Google" or "okay Google" line, but that could soon be changing for a select number of instructions, based on code in the latest version of the Google app for Android.

According to some digging done by Android Police and 9to5Google, a new feature is on the way called voice shortcuts, which will let you skip the "hey Google" part of the command in certain situations – making it faster and more convenient to use voice control.

This doesn't mean that Google Assistant will start listening to everything you say. This would be for specific commands – like answering a phone call or snoozing an alarm – when something is already happening on your phone.

That would make it much easier to get a few more minutes in bed or to quickly answer a call without adding extra words into the mix. Another example spotted in the code is stopping a timer, but it's likely that more instructions like this would follow.

Watch this space

It makes sense for these sorts of intuitive shortcuts to do away with "hey Google" – while you wouldn't want Google Assistant springing into action after every sentence you utter, if you say "snooze alarm" while an alarm is ringing then it's a fairly safe bet that you want the alarm snoozed.

The feature has the codename Guacamole inside the app, and it's likely that users will have to agree to an extra set of privacy terms before enabling it – it looks as though there will be a special toggle switch for this inside the Google Assistant settings.

This kind of functionality isn't completely new, because the Nest Hubs already accept voice commands to snooze alarms, even if you haven't said "hey Google" first. Now the option looks set to roll out to more devices and to incorporate more commands.

As for when it will actually roll out, that's not clear. Guacamole has apparently been in development since March, but we can't be sure when Google will flip the switch and make the option available in Google Assistant for Android.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.