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My normal Google routines became strange this week

One of the things I do with Google devices probably three times a day is ask it to tell me the news. I listen on the way to work, from work, and at the gym (yeah, I’m rocking out to AP News on the treadmill and silently begging “Let me Google That For You” to turn up the microphone or normalize the episode because it’s not in the same volume range of 20 other podcasts I listen to.)

TL;DR – some issues came up, some conjecture.

Update: About 30 minutes after posting this I ran across this, so chances are conjecture #1 below is correct.

I guess about a week ago I said “OK Google” and was surprised by my wife’s phone activating. I didn’t think much of it because that can happen, but shortly thereafter my assistant started using a male voice whenever I asked it to play the news, but the normal female assistant voice when answering any questions. This has stuck for several days and only seems to pronounce itself when I ask for news options.

The news delivered is still from the options I have chosen on my account, but the assistant voice is not the one I use. I just noticed that the display on the car doesn’t have the news source provided any more either.

The other voice also responded to my wife while telling her it did not recognize a device / that it was not set up. She repeated the same device name twice more and it kept responding that it did not know that. I asked Google the exact same query and it responded and turned the device off. It did it again a day later saying the device was not set up, I asked it what it heard and assistant claimed it forgot.

Yesterday I got to the gym and being as I don’t like saying “ok google” at volume around others to play the news I generally press the microphone on the Google search, then the keyboard option, and type in “play the news” but that disappeared as an option yesterday for me around 5:30pm, returning around 10pm. The normal expected behavior is it pops up a small black box at the bottom of the screen and then you can press a keyboard option to type in your request but that was gone. It was going to a white Google search page. (this is evidently what this was)

I’m intrigued by these abnormalities as this is the first movement I’ve noticed on their assistant platforms in a while. They’ve been unchanging for a long time, so perhaps some new features and the ability to utilize some sort of AI in the background will be happening soon. Alternately they just broke a bunch of user facing stuff and then fixed most of it.

Either way, something appears to be happening. Now if they’d just get some sort of handle on the Nest situation they made, remove Flash from the Fitbit site they bought, and get Bard to not hallucinate as much I’d start feeling they’re on the right track.

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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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