You No Longer Need to Say ‘Hey Google’ to Summon Google Assistant

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Interacting with Google Assistant required users to speak the phrase ‘Hey Google’, and while it was only a few syllables, there were instances in which the voice-powered AI could not catch what was being spoken. That all changes at Google I/O 2022, as one of the most significant changes is how users can interact with Google Assistant. For starters, ‘Hey Google’ will no longer be a prerequisite when summoning it. This feature was previously rumored, but the company has made it official with the latest announcement.

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The first option for summoning Google Assistant is Look and Talk. For Nest Hub Max owners, this change is exactly what it sounds like, as you will have to look directly at the Nest Hub Max to start communicating. The device will then use face match and voice match to recognize you, giving you personalized results. The results processing is done locally, and according to Google, none of this facial recognition data is sent to the company’s servers.

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The second option to summon Google Assistant is Quick Phrases. Quick Phrases expands on how you can interact with Google Assistant. With this addition, asking the assistant to set a timer, tell the time, switch on or switch off the lights will become a breeze. Google Assistant has also become better at recognizing natural speech. For example, there were times when a user would normally stutter for requesting information or a simple task to be fulfilled.

These pauses and stutters while talking to Google Assistant would come in between the natural experience. Thankfully, this may become a thing of the past as speech models are being moved ‘on device’ to make the processing faster. This upgrade is possible thanks to the development of better neural networks on the Google Tensor chip.

Google also demoed an example on stage, where one of the company’s employees was asking for a song, paused, and did not remember the artist’s full name. Google Assistant is now smart enough to understand the speech and these pauses, figure out what the missing part is going to be, and relay it to the final result. Hopefully, non-native-English-speaking accents and dialects will be better recognized by the assistant and provide near-accurate results accordingly.

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