Virtual assistant “routines” are multistep actions that can be initiated by a single voice command, such as “turn off lights” and “turn on soft music.” Alexa can do them, and so can Google Assistant.
Google first announced them in October but has just now started to roll out several predefined routines. They are: good morning, bedtime, leaving home, I’m home and commuting to or from work.
Good morning, for example, allows for a range of actions simply by saying, “Hey Google, good morning”:
Google Home currently offers shortcuts, which is a less elaborate version of routines. I would be very surprised if there was much usage of shortcuts. These multistep commands are really a power-user tool, unless radically simplified (i.e., limited choices, checkboxes).
But perhaps that’s what Google Home routines will turn out to be. Google implies they will be a top-level option under the Home app menu (menu–>Routines–>choose a routine–>choose actions). Routines haven’t shown up for me yet in the app. But when I said, “OK Google, good morning” I got the time, weather and NPR news in sequence.
Even with simplification, Google (and Amazon) will need to do considerable consumer education and make using routines “lowest-common-denominator” simple to get people to adopt them.