Google Assistant is often praised for its wide variety of actions and integrations with third-party apps and services but it’s still missing some last-mile features that seem simple, especially compared to its rivals. For all its reported limitations, Apple’s Siri lets you immediately trigger an app action rather than just open an app, for example. These shortcuts once popped up in Google Assistant and may now be on their way back but in a very limited form for now.
Both Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby allowed users to set up their own “shortcut” commands that took you into a specific screen or action of an app, especially a third-party app. This is a major convenience and time saver that Google also considered at one point in time. Unfortunately, Google Assistant shortcuts were silently scrapped in favor of Routines even if those two aren’t exactly the same.
Android Police reports that Shortcuts are making a comeback but seems to be in a very early stage of development. So early that the number of possible actions to tie to custom shortcut is so limited and the feature itself seems to only be limited to Google’s latest Pixel phones. Hopefully, it’s just growing pains.
Google Assistant Shortcuts will let you select from a predefined list of actions that an app developer provides but it won’t let you create your own voice command. At the moment, it also doesn’t actually do the action you expect it to but simply takes you to the app’s screen where you can then start typing or doing the action.
It’s definitely a bit disappointing that an initial rollout would be this limited but that’s not surprising for how Google does these things anyway. Hopefully, it will actually make Shortcuts a more permanent part of Google Assistant now and give users even more power to set it up the way they need it to be.