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Google Assistant offers a rough equivalent to Siri Shortcuts

They're not as full-featured as Apple's, but they could still save you valuable time.

Published onSeptember 2, 2020

google pixel 4 xl revisited assistant
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
  • Google has quietly enabled Assistant shortcuts that behave like Apple’s Siri counterparts.
  • They’re limited to supporting apps and only launch certain pages.
  • The feature appears to be automatically enabled on Google’s end.

Google Assistant has routines to help you automate multiple actions, but do you miss the days of simple shortcuts? They appear to be coming back. Android Police has noticed that Google is quietly bringing back Assistant shortcuts in Android, albeit not in the way you might remember.

They’re rough parallels to Apple’s Siri Shortcuts that open specific sections of a given app on your Android device. You can tell Assistant to start a new Instagram post, update your WhatsApp photo, or check your direct messages in Twitter. Once you’ve enabled a shortcut, you invoke it just by saying “hey Google” and the shortcut phrase.

This works whether or not you have the new-look Assistant on your device and is activated on Google’s end, although it’s not certain which users are getting the feature first. We’ve asked Google for comment. If you have access, you can enable shortcuts by opening Assistant’s settings and scrolling down to Shortcuts.

The addition won’t give iPhone owners reason for pause. You can only run one function at a time, and it’s so far limited to opening sections of an app on your phone rather than performing tasks. Unlike with Siri or Google’s own routines, you can’t string together a series of commands that might swing your whole smart home into action. Also, developers need to incorporate shortcut support into their apps. You can’t simply control your app of choice.

There is a consolation if you have no use for these shortcuts. Assistant’s dietary preferences now let you upvote or downvote specific cuisines and ingredients, so you can avoid Brussels sprouts or seek out Chinese cuisine. You should get fewer Snapshot recipes you hate, then. Like with shortcuts, this appears to be rolling out on Google’s servers rather than through an app update.

Next: Things you didn’t know you could do with Google Home

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