There’s an advert currently doing the rounds for Google Home devices that plays up the smart speaker’s ability to recognize more natural sentences rather than rigid command lines. It’s not hard to see the advert as a thinly veiled shot at Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and Alexa’s stricter dialogue patterns.
To some extent this is true, as Google Assistant has been positioned as a friendly, more conversational digital butler ever since it first arrived on the first-generation Pixel phones last year. Yet unfortunately, actually kicking off the chat has always been a little clumsy due to the Assistant’s awkward ‘hotword’: “OK Google”.
Home users thankfully have a little more choice and can say “Hey Google” instead, but on smartphones it’s been “OK Google” ever since the dark days of Google Now. As of today, though, it seems that Google is rolling out the “Hey Google” command for Assistant on phones too.
More: What is Google Assistant? How can you use it?
Android Police reports that some users have begun receiving a notification prompting them to retrain their voice model settings to account for the new hotword. The feature began rolling out for some users back in October, but it appears this is happening on a universal scale.
I didn’t receive the notification personally, but after updating the Voice settings manually on my Pixel 2 XL I found that both “OK Google” and “Hey Google” are now both recognized by Assistant. You can do this yourself by heading to your Settings menu and then tapping Google > Search > Voice > Voice Match > Retain voice model.
Having two phrases instead of one on multiple devices is a step in the right direction for Assistant, but I still can’t shake the feeling that the insistence on using two specific, arbitrary phrases undermines Google’s claim that Assistant offers a more natural experience than its rivals – especially when you can wake Alexa with a single word or rename it entirely.
Which hotword will you be using, “OK Google” or “Hey Google”? Let us know in the comments.