(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

If you're using an iPhone or Android phone a lot, you probably know about virtual assistants. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and the Google Assistant can use voice commands to open apps, make calls and send texts, stream content, answer questions, perform web searches, control the lights in your home, and carry out other duties.

However, not all virtual assistants are made equal, and Siri usually faces the most challenges with voice recognition and breadth of abilities. As a result, many iPhone and iPad users have grown accustomed to saying, "Hey Siri, open the Google Assistant," because the latter AI is arguably the most capable.

SEE: Siri Shortcuts updates in iOS 12.1 include weather, alarms, timers, and more

On that note, The Verge spotted an update to the Google Assistant app for iOS that now lets users skip a step, thanks to Siri Shortcuts. Now you'll be able to say, "Hey Siri, OK Google," and the Google Assistant app will open with its AI already listening for your voice command.

To begin using the Siri Shortcut for the Google Assistant, open the Assistant app, and tap the inbox icon in the lower right. If you have the latest version of this app, you'll see a notice at the top of your screen that you can now add "OK Google" to Siri. Just tap the Add to Siri button and record your Shortcut phrase.

It can actually be any phrase -- "OK Google" is just the one that the Assistant app suggests. You can shorten this to "Google" or whatever else tickles your fancy. So if you set it to "Google," then saying "Hey Siri, Google," will use this new Siri Shortcut as well.

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If you want to change this Siri Shortcut later, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, scroll down to and tap Siri & Search, tap My Shortcuts, tap the one labeled Hey Google, tap Re-Record Phrase, and say whatever you'd want to come after "Hey Siri." Then tap Done in the upper right to confirm your changes.

Siri & Search has a number of other useful features to check out, such as other suggested Shortcuts. If you tap All Shortcuts, you'll be presented with a list of everything that you could trigger, which is based on the apps installed on your device. For example, if you have Google News installed (Android, iOS) and you want a voice command to go directly to its latest headlines, you'll find that Siri Shortcut option in this menu.

Takeaways

  • The Google Assistant app for iOS has just been updated with support for Siri Shorcuts. You can now activate the Google Assistant by saying a phrase like, "Hey Siri, Google."
  • It's not as convenient as being able to say "Hey Google" like you can with Android and Chrome OS devices, but it the gap just got substantially narrower.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.