Besides being dumber than a box of rocks lately, Google Assistant is pretty alright with the basics – turning your smart devices on and off, and answering basic questions (sometimes). Recently, the team responsible for developing and maintaining it was sent to work on Bard AI, the company’s new golden child, and the once stellar futuristic helper is now becoming a shell of its former self. Nevertheless, it appears that Google is taking user feedback seriously and updating the Assistant while it’s still with us in its current state to provide quality-of-life improvements where it can.
One area where I and many others find Assistant extremely frustrating is its excessive chattiness. Instead of just shutting up and doing what it’s told as technology should, it will often vocalize exactly what it’s doing with far more words than you’d care to hear at any given time. I get that it’s an accessibility thing, but boy, is it distracting!
A recent announcement from Lazarus, a community specialist on the Google Nest Community page, covers how the company is addressing this by implementing a simple and “pleasant” chime sound in place of the soliloquy for a variety of devices, including outlets, switches, TVs, speakers, fans, blinds, and more. This change will be rolled out over the next few weeks – hallelujah!
After you’ve said, “Ok Google, turn on the fan,” rather than hearing a verbal response like, “Ok, turning on fan,” from the speaker / smart display, you’ll instead hear a pleasant chime to confirm that Google is turning on your fan.Google Nest Community
With ChatGPT, Bard, BingAI, and other artificially intelligent large language models taking the world by storm, it seems as though we are entering a post-Google Assistant era. My continued hope is that Bard will replace Assistant from a technical standpoint and that Google will keep the household name while offering a more helpful and less frustrating experience across all of its products. By improving basic human contextual awareness and preference, the tech giant could bring relevance back to Assistant’s original purpose.
You may think I’m being unnecessarily hard on Assistant, but if you ask literally anyone who’s used it over the past year – even regular, non-tech-savvy folks, they’ll tell you there’s been a significant shift in its helpfulness and capabilities. Let me know in the comments if this upcoming change is going to make you talk to the Assistant more or if you just flick the light switch with your hand like you used to.