Google launched its Google Home hardware last year as a means to attract the Google Assistant into your ordinary life. Contrary to Assistant on a phone, Home is designed for everybody to work with, and it started with various smart home integrations such as Philips Hue lights and Nest thermostats. Google continues to be talking a huge game when it comes into voice recognition and management, however a little hiccup on Google’s end on the weekend will be a reminder how delicate a “smart home” platform is.
Starting on Thursday or Friday and going through ancient Monday, Google Home became unresponsive to many users. Maybe not everyone was affected, but those who have been simply got an error message when utilizing the “OK Google” trigger phrase to wake up the unit. “Hmm, something went wrong. Try again in a couple of seconds,” it might say repeatedly.
The thread contained dozens of accounts of the behavior. Meanwhile, threads of comparable complaints appeared about the Google Home subreddit. It is reasonable to say this was a widespread issue–in reality, both the Google Homes use in my house were affected. Lately, Google Assistant on phones was not affected.
Google reacted to the outage complaints across the weekend and noted that engineers had been working on a fix. Everything is working fine again, but this might convince some people to pull on the smart home devices. Many of these devices replace something as easy as a light switch or a door lock. The ribbon comes off when you spend 10 seconds bantering with a defective AI, must then walk across the area and turn a switch anyhow.
Google Assistant on phones was unaffected.
This is the situation where I had been confronted. My lighting is controlled by Google Home, and I could not use it. I had a strange moment in which I had to actually consider what I need to do so as to turn to some light. Never in my life had that been something I had to consider before.
Google and Amazon both possess powerful voice recognition engines at work in their smart hubs, and lots of devices that link to them. Voice is a terrific way to interact with these programs. But since more people dip their toes in the home automation waters, the rough edges are going to become all the more obvious. It will not really take off until my smart heartbeat is as dependable as a light change.