Google Assistant could say goodbye to 'Hey Google' for short commands — here’s how

Google Assistant Guacamole
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Update: Google Assistant can now automatically change your passwords if they've been compromised

Google Assistant appears to be dispensing with the pleasantries, as an unfinished update for the voice assistant has hinted that you may not need to use the “Hey Google” wake phrase for certain commands in the future.

In the most recent Android 11 beta, Android Police spotted a new section on Google Assistant’s Android settings that includes a toggle to set voice shortcuts for “quick tasks.” This section, seemingly codenamed “Guacamole,” doesn’t currently function, but will apparently let you speed up key commands without having to address Google Assistant first.

An APK teardown by 9to5Google revealed more details: the commands that fall under Guacamole’s influence will be time-sensitive, like answering a phone call or snoozing through an alarm. It’s probably for the best that such shortcuts are limited like this — you wouldn’t want Google Assistant to pipe up every time you asked a question within earshot of your phone.

That said, given Guacamole has found its way onto a limited number of Android phones, and in an unfinished, inoperable state, we shouldn’t necessarily take its apparent feature set as finalized. Its addition to Android proper might not even be that imminent; Google has supposedly worked on voice shortcuts since March this year but hasn’t so much as hinted at it in public.

However, the fact that such a feature has first appeared in Android 11 suggests it may arrive before the Android 12 update expected to land later this year. It’s also worth noting that you can already cancel timers and alarms on Google Nest and Google Home devices by simply saying “stop,” without a “Hey Google” first, so Google already has the basic functionality operational. Perhaps Guacamole is simply focused on bringing this same feature to Android phones.

It’s also possible that we’ll see more of Guacamole, and potentially Android 12, during the Google I/O event taking place on May 18 through 20.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.