I thought it might be useful to make a list of everything I have a problem with in the Google-verse as I’ve been feeling remarkably negative against Alphabet lately. Sometimes listing things out works to illuminate what the issues actually are for me.
TL;DR – cathartic opinion piece on problems Paul is facing that nobody is forcing you to read.
I have a lot more interaction with Google than the average consumer I would assume as I’ve been dealing with them for both Pocketables, work, ITB, and kid’s school. I will point out these are my observations and annoyances. If you don’t want to be annoyed, really nobody is forcing you to read these. It’s my hope that someone in Google will actually take up the case to to make the company better, although with Pocketables numbers my bet is it’s probably not going to be on anyone’s radar.
There is next to no useful support at level one for anything. Every interaction I’ve had this year for Assistant / Home support involved a problem with how the AI was responding from Google’s cloud servers, and I was given performative hoops to jump through (reset a random speaker, change the Google account, send some firmware information, try a different phone.)
It culminated with being told my network was complicated, to use different DNS (psst – I was using Google’s,) and a weeks-long support thread that nobody could seem to understand do not close the damned case, it locks up at 8 days every time. You can read some of the 13 part testing on two networks here. Yeah, 13 parts – that’s how angry Google made me.
The feeling from (this) consumer: purchased Google product, running google operating system, Google product is delivering data to Google servers that are AI and processing, sending data back to Google Product that’s wrong… obviously it’s time for you to factory reset your phone. Oh, you’ve got one item plugged into a router? Complicated network! Your fault!
Tried a new ethernet cable to fix a problem with us playing a creepy hissing woman instead of white noise?
Lack of documentation
Google’s changed the world. I got that. Googling Google’s products is abysmal. Try and find a list of what you can ask Google Assistant / Home. There’re suggestions for a few things, I mean quite a few, but there’s no good way to know what you can ask your assistant. Most of the tricks and things I’ve done I’ve learned by accident.
Let’s say I add an air conditioner and robot to my menagerie. What commands can I ask it to do? Nearly every manufacturer gives a quick how to connect instruction sheet and that’s it. Can I tell my robot I want it to strongly mop a room? Evidently not but I can tell it to vacuum a room and it will go in and mop it. Maybe the manufacturer tells Google that MOP and Vacuum are the same, maybe not.
Just a list somewhere in assistant of phrases that a service has registered might be useful. A web page that pulls a list of service commands your products have registered? Don’t even have to document that.
Parental control ridiculousness
Having a kid in the household means a lot of my things such as ability to open a web page on a Nest Hub just went away without explanation. A simple message that “there’s a kid in the household and now you have to set up digital wellbeing like so…” would have been nice.
No ability to easily disable a kid’s everything. I mean sorry, you threw a plate, now I get to disable day by day removing schedules. How hard is it to put in “disable account for x days.”
The Family Wi-Fi over in the Nest Wifi wasn’t particularly robust and was pretty useless. No ability to block that one annoying channel of talentless YouTube hacks that uses Karens as a curse word nonstop and yet somehow manages to make it into an acceptable for kids space?
Voice to text spelling
I’ve got a kid with a weird name spelling, I got it. I don’t expect Aerin’s going to be the predominate spelling, but there’s a particular family reason it’s spelled that way. I have friends named Aaron, and Erin as well. There’s no way I’ve found to get voice to text to understand I probably am never going to be talking about Aaron or Erin. There’s no correct option, no suggest option, etc.
I even attempted setting Aerin up as a contact with a phonetic “eeee run” and nope, Aaron.
In December 2020 we signed a contract with Google Fiber for install in Feb 2021. We gave up in August 2021 when they finally were ready (which was 7 months after the deadline I was told would be no problem,) we attempted again a year later. Today’s a month after the scheduled turn up date and once again there’s no ETA. Here’s the 7-month journey from 2020-2021, and here’s where we’re at in 2022.
I should note for the past 10 days there has been light to the building, it should be good, but nobody knows what’s going on at the moment or when it’ll be up.
I can’t be the only person on the planet that copies a line and attempts to paste formula and gets random results can I? Paste special, formula only, why do you work last week but not now? AHHHH.
I’m not going to write this all out, but my headbutting here involved the lack of a menu option. Because people evidently use the menus.
Complete lack of useful error messages
“Something went wrong, try again later.”
OK Goog, what the hell went wrong? Was it an issue with the service you’re attempting to talk to? Was there a wireless connectivity issue? Did the error come from inside or outside of my house? What the hell is the error? Can you give me anything that I can pass on to support? This is absolutely abysmal feedback and does nothing.
What’s wrong? SOMETHING!
I know the attempt is to be consumer friendly but not narrowing down what’s wrong is stupid. Something like “there was a problem between Google and the Vacuum service” would narrow things down amazingly.
I’ve had error messages that Google could not reach a specific service where the error was either 1) something on the net that I could not fix, 2) a problem with the Wi-Fi that I could. Both error messages were the same as I recall and one didn’t correct till I corrected it.
Chrome’s ‘not secure’
Chances are you’re not an IT professional who uses IP addresses to connect to random equipment that exists in a space with 16 million IP addresses. I am. Occasionally I need to connect to something to see what toaster someone has plugged into a VLAN and is wreaking havoc on a client.
10.2.44.21 above I get the notice that the site is not secure and does not support HTTPS… this would be a nice warning and all if that IP existed and was returning data. It does not exist. It is not secure because it does not exist. Any other browser will say it can’t be reached, because it does not exist.
Chrome, nope, I’m told it’s not secure. This indicates it exists but does not support HTTPS… at least in my mind. I never would have assumed that nothing would have a problem supporting HTTPS… ok Google… I spent quite a bit of time attempting to determine what an IP address that appeared to be responding but didn’t exist was.
Now if I get that message I have to launch another browser just to determine if the IP exists and is responding.
The attitude of gratitude
This is a problem I see with consumers thinking they’re getting something for free, and seems to be fostered by Google by the “free and open source” claims. At its core the Android operating system exists to push Google ads to you. You can talk all you want about security, configurability, level open source playing field, developer options, etc, but this is paid for by Google’s advertising and selling of consumer data.
This is why they lost a few days of profits in the EU. Apple? Their OS is designed to sell you Apple hardware. That’s one of the mentions in that case.
I’m not putting Google down for this, that’s their model, I understand it. You’re paying for the software and ecosystem however.
That innovation in AI wasn’t paid for by Google, it was paid for by advertisers showing you ads after buying targets from Google. They were shown on your device that hundreds of thousands of developers worked to contribute code for that ended up making the operating system you used to see these ads.
Basically just understand you’re paying Google to do things in one way or another, you’re not getting something free.