Google Assistant is rolling out limited, Siri-like Shortcut support
Google is finally starting to roll out Shortcuts functionality in Assistant once again after axing a similar feature a few years back.
In 2017, Google toyed around with a shortcuts feature that made it easy for users to “create faster, easier ways to do your favorite things.” You could send a text to a friend with a pre-defined message, for example, or start your favorite playlist on your streaming service of choice. Google Assistant shortcuts eventually made way for Routines, but now shortcuts are making a quiet, but limited, comeback. Android Police recently spotted the feature going live for some users in Google Assistant, and it seems to work on both the old and new versions of Assistant. The new Assistant, if you’ll recall, is currently limited to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4a.
Once rolled out, the new Shortcuts menu can be accessed by going to the Assistant’s settings. There, you’ll see a list of example shortcuts, like starting a new Twitter message, sharing your location, or sending an email. Assistant offers up a lot of helpful shortcut suggestions, but tap “view all” and you can see all shortcuts available to you from apps such as including Maps, Gmail, Google Keep, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube. Once you’ve created a shortcut, you’ll see them in a list under the “Your shortcuts” tab, where you can edit the default voice commands or remove them. To execute a shortcut, simply say, “Hey Google,” and then name the shortcut you want to run. For example, say “Hey Google, new Twitter message,” to create a new tweet—or for brevity, “Hey Google, new tweet” after editing the voice command in the “Your shortcuts” tab.
Interestingly, Shortcuts also appear in the Google Assistant routines section, where you can also delete or edit them. Google likely placed them here to improve the discoverability of the new feature.
If you’ve ever used Apple’s Siri Shortcuts or Samsung’s Bixby Routines, you’ll know how helpful shortcuts can be. Unfortunately, Google Assistant’s shortcuts feature is pretty bare-bones right now, as AndroidPolice notes. Developers will need to implement shortcuts into their apps for them to be recognized by Assistant, so your choices may be limited. The feature also appears to only perform one action; you can’t string multiple actions together in the same app or several apps. Lastly, shortcuts don’t seem to actually do anything beyond launching specific screens within apps—telling Assistant to send a tweet, for example, just opens the tweet composer in Twitter.
As limited as Google Assistant shortcuts is right now, the feature may still be helpful for quickly getting basic actions done, and we’re excited to see how the feature evolves over the coming months. If you want more powerful Assistant shortcut functionality, we recommend trying out Tasker and its AutoVoice plugin.