Google Assistant shortcut test removes hotword for certain tasks

Saying 'Hey Google' for every small thing can get annoying, but the hotword serves an important purpose: it lets the voice assistant know when you're addressing it. For this reason, completely eliminating the hotword isn't practical, but shortcuts may prove useful in certain limited cases. That's the idea behind a feature in testing codenamed 'Guacamole,' but it's still in testing.

According to 9to5Google, the Guacamole feature made its appearance in Google app version 12.8 last month, but it's not something the average user can access at this time. It seems the feature is not included in the Android 12 Developer Preview, but it was recently noted that a setting page for the shortcut has appeared in the app.

The menu page has a brief explanation for the feature, which is listed in the app under the Guacamole name: "Skip saying 'Hey Google' for help with quick tasks.'" Users who toggle on the feature could, once it's available (assuming it ever becomes a regular feature) use the shortcut to avoid saying the hotword for specific tasks.

The report claims these tasks will include things like answering calls, snoozing alarms, and turning off timers. There's an obvious reason for the shortcuts in these instances — when an alarm is actively blaring, for example, it would make sense for Google Assistant to perceive the word 'Stop' as an order to turn it off even if the user doesn't say 'Hey Google' first. The same goes for saying 'Answer' when you're actively getting a call.

It wouldn't be surprising for Google to introduce this feature; the Nest Hub already supports stopping alarms sans the hotword, for example. It's unclear when the feature will roll out for everyone — it's limited to internal testing at this time — and what it will be called when it goes live in the app.