With the latest updates to the Nest Hub Max, you can use the Google Assistant without saying “Hey Google” for every request.
One of the ways that will work is with a new feature Google calls “Look and Talk.” Once it’s turned on, you can look at the Nest Hub Max’s screen and ask a question. No ‘Hey Google’ prompt is required. The feature could be a handy way to save some time if you’re already looking at a Nest Hub Max’s screen – I could see it being a handy way to ask for recipes.
Look and Talk is an opt-in feature and you must have enabled both Google’s Face Match and Voice Match technologies to use it, according to a blog post from Sissie Hsiao, Google’s vice president of Assistant. Audio and video from the Look and Talk interactions are processed on the device. Look and Talk is available first on the Nest Hub Max in the US.
A Google spokesperson declined to say whether the feature would be coming to other devices. “For now, we plan to roll it out on the Nest Hub Max, but we’re always open to other opportunities to improve the Assistant experience for our users,” said Google spokesperson Katie Hutchison.
Google is also bringing its quick phrases feature to the Nest Hub Max so you don’t have to say “Hey Google” for a handful of common requests. According to Hutchison, quick sentences, which were first launched with the Pixel 6 last yearcan be used for:
- Set a timer or alarm
- Cancel timers and alarms
- Turn lights on/off
- Dim/brighter lights
- ask the time
- Ask again
Short sentences about the Next Hub Max will be launched in the US later this summer.
Google is working to make Assistant better understand you in general, too, even when you subconsciously pause or drop a subconscious “um” in your requests. The company says Assistant can do this thanks to more powerful speech and language models, and Hutchison tells me the features will be rolled out continuously over the next year.
The overall goal of the company is to make talking to the assistant a little more natural. “Talking to Assistant isn’t quite normal, is it?” Google’s Nino Tasca said in an interview with David Pierce of Custom Hour. “You have to give a command, like say someone’s name, ask a question, then wait for it to answer and then maybe come back. It’s kind of like a ping pong ball. We’re trying to get over that because it’s not natural.”