Showing posts from July, 2019

The google assistant (aka OK google): can't do attitude

I'm continually disappointed by the google assistant. Before having one I would have guessed the problem would be poor voice recognition - but that's not the case. It seems to convert my speak to text great. It just doesn't want to help.

On my phone:

OK Google...
... turn off my screen (I can't do that yet)
... reboot my phone (I can't do that yet)
... start driving me to mainstreet (just sits there with the overview without actually starting)
... drive me to mainstreet [now] (same)
... start navigation (still doesn't start driving me to mainstreeet)
... search for blah blah blah (responds on my google home mini instead of my phone)

Part of the problem I have is that sometimes I'd rather my phone respond than my google mini. I don't enjoy having webpages read to me for instance. But there's no keyword that means: do this on my phone, not my home assistant. In a similar vein, "hilarity" ensues when a friend comes over and OK googles their phone in earshot of my mini. Both respond, talking over each other like toddlers. Not that the assistant is as smart as a toddler.

What about problems specific to the mini/home speaker? Probably some of these are issues with the phone assistant, too, but I experience them with the mini for sure.

OK google...
...reset timer to 1 minute (sorry I can't change timers on this device)
...set timer for 1 minute (long cutesy response that I've heard way too many times)
...don't be cute (has no effect, but should disable the asinine attempt at humor above)

And then there's reminders. Which used to be tollerable and now are just useless. Here's what I used to do: "...Remind me to buy freezer bags at walmart". And it worked. Sometimes the phone forgot to remind me when I got to a walmart, but OK. Now: "which walmart do you mean (long list follows). And often when I tell it which one: "I'm sorry I didn't catch that". Totally nerfs a otherwise useful feature. Like I really care which walmart I buy frreezer bags.

Another way reminders suck, and always have: they are impossible to hear, and even if you do, the mini won't tell you what the reminder is for. "... remind me to empty dryer in 1 hour". one hour later: "I have a reminder for alan". Why won't you tell me what the reminder is, google? Most of the time "I have a reminder for Alan" takes longer than just saying what the reminder is, and contains WAY less information to boot. I realize that sometimes you might not want the mini to broadcast what it is that you are being reminded of. Well say some keyword that will help you remember like "rosebud" for that extremely rare use-case. Don't ruin the whole feature for a rare use case, google. So maybe the way reminders work is great for some people, I don't know. But here's the easy solution: give us some control, as in "... Change the reminder sound" (can't do it), "...speak full reminders" (huh?) "... reminders sound until dismissed" (why would I want to help you, dave?).

If it sounds like I want reminders to act like alarms, that's partially true. You can name alarms, but just like reminders the name is never spoken, so what's the point?!. I'd be fine if reminders were always wilting violets, and alarms were loud and pushy.  But if they have been named, say the name for goodness sake. Do you think I gave you a name because of my deep and unending love for you, entity that disappears forever by design after just a few minutes?

I could go on and on. Google assistant is such a disappointment. If I didn't already have hardware invested (phone and speaker) I'd try the others in a heartbeat.

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