Google Assistant got a lot more powerful on Android today.
Google Assistant can now tap into more than 30 popular apps on the Google Play Store to control some of their features hands-free. Which means you can say things like “show me my Amazon orders” or “Hey Google, Tweet” to send a tweet. That said, there are very limited things you can do right now.
To get an overview of all the available ‘Shortcuts’ on your phone, simply ask the Assistant on an Android phone, “Hey Google, show my shortcuts.” You can also find the Shortcuts page under the ‘Services’ section of the Google Assistant/account settings page. Once you see all the Shortcuts, you can enable and disable the ones you want.
It’s nice to ask your phone to do things hands-free, but it’s severely limited, and in most occasions, it seems like you ask the Assistant to open an app to one of its pages and then you need to interact with it via touch.
For instance, there are three Shortcuts for Instagram, and none of them are good. You can either open the posting window, your profile or the Explore page. Once you get them open, you can either stare at them until your phone screen shuts off or pick up your phone and start using it. In many cases, it even seems like picking up your phone is faster, since you don’t need to wait for Google to compute your command and then open the app.
If you do end up using some of the shortcuts, you can customize their triggers after they’re enabled. That means instead of saying, “Ok Google, Facebook updates” to see your social network notifications, you could edit it to say “Ok Google, waste my time” if you think that might be a more fitting title.
Ideally, Google and app developers are working on better ways to use this voice-control system, and I’m sure from an accessibility standpoint, this will help lots of people. But for most users, I see this fading away about as fast as Siri Shortcuts did, and I wish that instead, Google would have copied the actual iOS Shortcuts app, which provides way more power.