Seven hours with Google, 2022

I had a rather chaotic and not well timed road trip yesterday from Nashville to Louisville KY and back. The timing would have been ok except for due to extreme cold weather I had two pipes burst at a place I manage and was attempting to coordinate plumber and four tenants while driving nearly three hours each direction.

TL;DR – 7 hours driving with Google while trying to deal with several issues voice exclusively

Three tenants without water asking for status updates, one plumber saying be there in 30 minutes from 11am until he showed at 7pm. It was the most use of Google’s Pixel 7 Pro, Driving Mode, voice to text, and calling I’ve had on a phone ever.

I found some bugs and more annoyances with Google’s driving mode I had not before, and this time I had other people in the car to witness them so I was actually able to get some validation and do some diagnostics. But mostly I just had a couple of interesting bugs and more annoyances.

Family Link downtime across time zones

Family Link allows you to control your kid’s devices and shut them down at bedtime. When you cross a time zone, or within a few minutes of that happening, your kid’s device is affected. OK, not a huge deal you think… but it also appears to reset the status of anything time-restriction or allowance wise. Going Central to Eastern time zones can lock the devices – you know, as expected… it’s 7pm Central and you pass into 8PM eastern you can sort of expect that if 8pm is the downtime it shuts down.

What you don’t expect is if it’s after downtime when you’re driving back Eastern to Central, and you’ve manually unlocked your kid’s devices, when you cross back over and it adjusts time it locks the devices again. Discovered that when both my kid’s manually unlocked devices locked about a mile after the time zone switch.

Trying to use a phone as a phone

If I got a call this trip, it was going to the phone speaker and not the car’s Bluetooth. That was strange. The one time I managed to get or place a call where it came through the car’s audio my kids ears were filled with the melodic cursing of a tired plumber complaining eloquently about the screwed up plumbing job the previous plumber had done and how it was terrible. (While it may have been terrible, it was 90% from 1980 so I’m going to give the unknown plumber from 42 years back a little bit of a pass)

I asked via voice to make a call to a contact of mine. For some reason it didn’t and didn’t seem to recognize her as a contact. I pulled over while in navigation/driving mode/listening to news and popped open the phone app and looked her up. Made a call and nothing seemed to happen. Did it again and reached her. Quick conversation about let the plumber in and then it was time to hang up.

There was no phone app running. Swiping down there was no phone status indicator. I was looking at my phone and hearing telephone noises and mumbling “how do I hang up this thing?” as I think she’d just set her phone down and was letting the plumber in.

I looked for a while, opened the phone app which had no controls visible for the phone, and was about to reboot my phone when it sounded like it hung up… phew…

pop open driving mode again and … there’s the phone controls… they were in the bottom black status area. I was still on the call. Was able to hang up finally. Got to my destination, turned off driving mode, and my phone immediately attempted to dial that contact again.

You can understand me, and you have internet, what’s the delay?

There exists something that takes the words that the phone understands and processes them for Driving Mode / Maps on the internet and that seemed to be disconnected or slow as molasses yesterday. Quite often I’d ask Google to do something in driving mode, see that the on-board Tensor G2 had processed the words, see the words in the black bar and get “wait just a moment” and a black bar at the bottom… it would spin… if it took more than five seconds it was never going to disappear. I could just ask again and it worked. Like I was connecting to one bad server quite often that just wanted to leave me hanging.

You can’t understand me

I’ve determined there’s a specific speed at which I shouldn’t expect the Pixel 7 Pro to understand me… that’s about 62 miles an hour. In my car, at that speed, asking for things like “play soul coughing” yield results of “play some coffee”. I suspect it’s wind and tire noise but the results are if it’s loud it’s useless.

I suspect this changes road to road, car to car, and tire to tire, but after 7 hours of driving yesterday and realizing I needed to slow down if I wanted to send a text message without a series of voice to text mistakes, well, that’s kind of something that needs work. Maybe use the camera in conjunction with microphone to lip read. Do not know. Maybe someone needs to buy me a much less roary car…

The news was not meant to be like this

Until you’ve got 26 news sources and actually run through them because you’re in a car for 7 hours you don’t realize how useful it is to have the ability to mark something to not play again.

No, I don’t want the final episode of BBC Minute ever broadcast to play again… and if I did it might be useful if it actually played.

If something has played, it doesn’t need to play again. I’m pretty sure it used to say “you’re all caught up” and now it appears to 1) end with no notice, 2) play in random order and repeat things it’s already played.

A heart can take 36 seconds to read wrong details

In an MMS group, get a text after starting driving mode… first you’ll get the delay followed by the notification that Auto Read is still active and that you can turn it off at any time. Then you’ll get the group name, then the name of the person sending followed usually by the message.

What I got a lot of yesterday was things being attributed to J that K had said, then J had put a thumbs-up or heart emoji on. So if K said “I like avocados” and J thumbs-upped it it would re-read and say that J had said that.

OMG get me a mute group option

I had to pull over at one point, open Facebook Messenger, and mute a group for 8 hours I’m in because it was nonstop

Long group name – P says “IKR” thumbs up emoji
Long group name – O says “K”
Long group name – J says lunch right?
There’s a long message from Long group name do you want to hear it?
Long group name – K sent a picture

Let’s add continued conversation

People text and chat in short bursts quite often. I’ve watched as 3-4 messages get received while the first one is being read out. You don’t have to put “K says ‘something'” for every one.

Maybe add volume leveling?

As I mentioned I have a ton of news sources. My general daily trips I get through 3-4 short reports and I’m done. Long trips like yesterday I manage to go through a ton.

While most professional news sources seem to have a close leveled volume I ran across two yesterday that were inaudible. Sounded like the woman was trying to AMSR something about Krampus… had to crank the volume and then be blasted by a normal audio level the next podcast/news item.

Seems like something that’s been possible since the 90’s… volume leveling… look into it. Scan the next 20 seconds of audio and normalize it to something.

Maybe cache the next news item?

I didn’t run into this yesterday, but it’s something I run into most days coming home from work. There’s a place on the interstate going through downtown Nashville where you switch from one tower to the next and that next tower for some reason just hates working. Oh, it’ll work, but you’re going to wait a bit before it does.

I reported it a few times when it was Sprint, and even though it’s a 5G T-Mobile tower now it does the same thing. Short of it is if I’m there and a news podcast ends it’s not going to the next one and may just time out and never give any indication that anything happened.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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