Google has done it again: evolved their digital assistant in such a way to make life even easier. Imagine, instead of having to say "Okay Google, call <insert name>" to place a call, you could simply say "Okay Google <insert name>". Although that may not seem like much of a shortcut, this new feature can do much more. For example, you could create a shortcut that would talk to CNBC about the stock markets with the shortcut "Stock Update," or "Good Night" to turn off all of your smart lights, or "Late" to send a text to one of your contacts that you're running a custom amount of time behind.
I actually happened across this feature by accident, just nosing around Android 7.1.1 on my OnePlus 3. The second I started configuring shortcuts, my initial response was, "Why isn't Google promoting this feature more?" Google Assistant shortcuts might well go down as one of the handiest features you didn't know you had or didn't know you needed.
But how do you create Google Assistant shortcuts? I'm going to show you.
Your first shortcut
To start the process, long press the home button on your Android device. When the Assistant window opens, tap the small blue circle in the upper right corner of the overlay (Figure A).
In the next window, tap the YOUR STUFF tab, scroll down to the SHORTCUTS section, and tap Create new shortcut. In this new window (Figure B), you can either use the examples to create your own shortcuts, or tap the + button to create one from scratch.
Let's create a new shortcut. Tap the + button and you will initially see two options (Figure C). The first option is the shortcut command (what you have to say after "OK Google") and the second is what Google Assistant will do in response to your command. After you enter information in the OK Google section, a third section will appear for Google Assistant. Depending upon what you want the shortcut to do will determine whether you use Google Now or Google Assistant. For example, to place calls, you would use Google Now and to send text messages you would use Google Assistant. The easiest way to know the correct option is simple: If you create a shortcut and you cannot save it, you made the wrong choice.
You can either type in the necessary information (such as "wife" and "Call <insert wife's name>") or you can tap the mic button and speak the information. Once you've completed the setup, tap the SAVE button and the shortcut will be saved. You can now say "Okay Google" and then speak your shortcut to watch it in action.
Android gets more and more efficient
With the advent of Google Assistant, Android gains new ground in the realm of efficiency. The Google Assistant shortcuts can make interacting with Android on the go quite a bit easier. Set yourself up a few shortcuts and see how quickly you come to depend upon them.
- Google Assistant: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- How to get Google Assistant on your iPhone (TechRepublic)
- Android Nougat: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- 5 top takeaways for Android developers from Google I/O 2017 (TechRepublic)
- Google Home review: A promising step towards the future (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.