The hands-free experience that Assistant offers has been liberating for many of us, but it seems like Google is working on making it a lot more convenient (and worrisome?) with commands that don't require the obligatory hotword.
This isn't the first time we're hearing about this, but the latest APK teardown by the folks over at 9to5Google shows that the feature will be called "Quick phrases." As the feature description in the screenshot below reads, it will allow you to skip saying "Hey Google" for help with specific tasks.
"Salsas," as you can see in the screenshots above, is the codename for the "specific tasks" you'll be able to do with "Quick phrases." However, all of them won't be enabled by default, and you will have to handpick the commands you want Google Assistant to be actively listening for.
All the available "salsas" are currently categorized under nine categories: Recommended, Alarms, Connect, General info, Lights, Media Controls, Timers, and To-Dos. There doesn't seem to be support for adding custom salsas at the moment.
Once you select the salsas you want to enable, you'll have to select from a list the "Devices where Assistant can respond to your salsas." While it's unclear which devices will support "Quick phrases," 9to5Google points towards evidence that suggests it'll be available for both smartphone and smart displays.
For what it's worth, smart displays can already respond to commands without the hotword. For instance, when an alarm or a timer rings, you can simply say "stop" to silence it. However, the functionality hasn't extended much beyond this use case.
If and when "Quick phrases" is implemented, it remains to be seen how Google takes care of privacy when a phone or a speaker is listening to a lot more words than "Hey Google." However, there's a fair chance that Google will leverage its on-device ML processing to take care of this.