Google has taken advantage of Siri Shortcuts in iOS to make its own Google Assistant more useful, with iPhone and iPad users now able to bring up the search company's digital assistant by vocal command, by adding the "Ok Google" trigger to Siri.
An update to the Google Assistant iOS app on Wednesday revealed the addition of support for Siri Shortcuts, with users opening the app greeted by an option to add "Ok Google" to Siri using the iOS feature. Selecting the "Add to Siri" button takes users to a screen to record the trigger phrase to bring up Google Assistant, with the tool suggesting the use of "Ok Google."
Once set up, users can summon the Google Assistant by triggering Siri manually then stating "Ok Google." It is possible to do the same thing hands-free by saying "Hey Siri" before "Ok Google," though this may be a bit of a mouthful for some users.
The nature of how the Siri Shortcut works also makes it incapable of immediately asking the query after saying the trigger phrases, with users needing to wait after saying "Ok Google" for the Assistant to appear before making their query. Attempts to add a query immediately after "Ok Google" in Siri without a break typically prompts Siri to try and resolve the query itself, usually resulting in a web search for the statement.
Users can also set up more complex queries within Siri Shortcuts itself that trigger events in Google Assistant. For example, in a household where all smart home devices are set up under Google Home and are incompatible with HomeKit, it is possible to set a Siri Shortcut command to order Google Assistant to run a prearranged routine.
While potentially clumsy to say while hands-free, the addition to the Google Assistant app means users no longer have to manually open the Google Assistant in order to speak to it. Siri's deep integration with iOS prevented the ability for other digital assistants to constantly listen out for trigger phrases for hands-free usage, an issue that has been somewhat worked around by Google.
Other assistants, including Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana, are not yet capable of being summoned by the user solely by voice, but since Google has demonstrated it is possible to take advantage of existing features to provide a similar functionality, it may not be long before the other remaining digital assistants copy the idea.
This is not the first time digital assistants have been able to work with others, in order to improve the user experience. In August 2017, Microsoft and Amazon announced a scheme where the other company's assistant would be available on their own hardware, with Alexa summonable via Cortana on Windows 10 desktops, and Cortana able to be queried from Amazon Echo devices via Alexa.