Google Assistant’s worst feature is still having to say ‘Hey Google’

Recently, some of us at The Verge who use Google Assistant devices in our homes started complaining about the whole "Hey Google / OK Google" issue. We all had the same experience: you would say something like "Hey Google, set a timer for 12 minutes", and the expected response from the "Set of timers" would come from a device in another part of the house.

In my At home, we have that problem all the time. We have three Google Assistant devices (not including our phones), and I can not count how many times we would be sitting in the living room, we would say: "Hey Google, play The Great British Baking Show of Netflix", and somewhere over my head, in the second floor bedroom, a voice would explain that he can not do that.

What is the problem here? Apparently, the proximity technology of voice, or arbitration, used by Google Assistant devices can be, to be polite, clumsy. Although it may be in the same room as one of its devices, the algorithm that determines which device actually responds (as explained in this article in 9to5Google ) sometimes fails and the wrong device will respond. In general, the combination is temporary; Often, if I repeat my video request again, the correct answer will be obtained from the correct device, but it is a waste of time and irritating. Especially if, for example, you have requested a timer for your egg of 2 minutes and the timer goes off in your bathroom, where you can not hear it.

What may be the most annoying thing is that the reason for all this is probably marketing. In 2013, Google began selling its first branded phone, the Moto X, which included a pure Android operating system, dazzling color cases and voice recognition technology, then known as Google Now. Several months after the phone was launched, Google added the ability to change the "OK Google Now" start phrase to whatever it wanted. It was great. I called my phone "Mr. Pickwick" (I'm a fan of Dickens), and I had a friend who would happily throw his phone saying, "Mrs. Peel, you're needed."

Google Now has been replaced by the Google Assistant , and voice recognition has become part of everyday life. But at some point along the way, some geniuses at Google decided that having everyone saying "OK Google" or "Hey Google" was necessary for the health of the company (because, I suppose, otherwise, we would all forget the name of the company that had provided the technology). So now, instead of being able to assign a different start phrase to each device, we are left with a choice of two boring phrases, and we must observe how all the devices within the listening distance are turned on each time we use them. This is especially ironic because Amazon, Google's main competitor in this space, allows you to assign one of the four different awakening words ("Alexa", "Amazon", "computer" or "Echo"), so it could, in theory, assign one to each of the four devices.

And everything is so unnecessary. Currently we can assign a name to each Google Assistant device or name a group of devices. We can even change the voice of the Google Assistant to several options, including celebrities such as John Legend. So, why can not we assign a different launch phrase to each device?

Because the company that sells us the technology wants us to say its name. Constantly. All the time. No matter how much that affects the actual efficiency of the technology.

Hey, Google! Play "We are not governed by our marketing department" on all speakers. Thank you.

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