back to article In the living room, can Google Home hear you SCREAM? Well, that's what you'll need to do

If you are fed up with shouting at a so-called smart assistant to make yourself heard, you must be one of the many Google Home customers who have lived with a less-than-stellar digital butler lately. For nearly four months – which is how long ago the first complaint appeared on the Google Home support forum – the search-slash- …

  1. tony2heads
    Megaphone

    Scream

    Like a sergeant major or marine drill sergeant?

    Icon: what the rest of us will need

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Scream

      Is this where the sarge sings the marching song

      I dunno what I've been told!

      Googles' Home gadget is gettin' old!

      Now it's time to end-of-life!

      So don't fix bugs,

      It's too much strife.

      1. Flywheel Silver badge

        Re: Scream

        !RemindMe 6 months

        (tips hat to Reddit)

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Scream

        Googles' Home gadget is gettin' old!

        Now it's time to end-of-life!

        The way Google has doing things... you might just be right. They seem to do a lot of the "end of life" thing when problems hit the bottom line.

      3. Steevee

        Re: Scream

        "GOOGLE, SOUND OFF LIKE YOU GOT A PAIR!!"

        <Google turns sound off>

        "....damn...."

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Google Home is a bit temperamental

    The only thing I ever say after "OK, Google" is "Stream BBC Radio 4". Oh, and "Stop", usually at around 08:10am. If they'd put a button on it I could bind to that task, they could save themselves a fortune on underpaid linguists and AI.

    Despite the expenditure, all that AI is either too stupid to work out that it has only one task or constantly indignant that it isn't being challenged. I learned to say "Stream" because "Play" would result in the (admittedly well-simulated) voice telling me "I don't understand how to do that". The other day, I got the same response unless I said "Play". Perhaps it's just programmed to mess with my mind. And the volume is completely haphazard. Some days it's quiet, some days it's loud and when it's loud it's deaf because its own feedback drowns out anything you might be shouting at it - wait for a a pause in the conversation (and that might mean suffering through John Humphrys until Melvyn Bragg loses his thread) and suddenly it gets the message.

    WIth the addition of an FM tuner and the removal of the WiFi, it would make a nice piece of kit.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      A proper radio tuned to BBC Radio 4 would work a lot better, you never have to yell at it, and you can turn it on and off with a button. Oh, and it will never change functionality behind your back.

      But why use something simple when you can go cutting-edge and make your life even madder than it already is ?

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        I got the Google device, along with an Amazon one, to compare and contrast their utility. The only use I could find for the Google Home was as a radio. I gave the Amazon device away: I gather it spends its life in a cupboard.

        I have a lot of radios - the DAB ones are terrible, the FM ones are either small and tinny or space-hungry. The one thing Google (and indeed Amazon) have got roughly right is producing a decent sound from a relatively small device.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        <blockquoteA proper radio tuned to BBC Radio 4 would work a lot better, you never have to yell at it</blockquote>

        There speaks a man who's never had to listen to John Humphries of a morning...

        1. Insert sadsack pun here
          Paris Hilton

          "Oh, and "Stop", usually at around 08:10am."

          But Thought for the Day is on at 0745...

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Oh, and it will never change functionality behind your back

        I got annoyed recently when my Roberts Radio device told me I had to redo all my Internet Radio shortcuts. Since I only have one (MOROW Prog Radio) it wasn't too much of a chore but, since I was in the middle of a raging migraine[1] it strained what few braincells were properly functioning. Especially as it wanted me to power down the radio completely and that invoved getting out of bed.

        [1] Bizarrely, listening to music during a migraine actually helps. Especially fairly complex music - I suspect that it distracts the brain somewhat from the sensation of someone hammering a large tentpeg slowly through the left side of my brain. Even large doses of codeine and asprin don't stop the pain. And sumatriptan makes me really, really sick.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          I find music or the radio a godsend during migraines. It hurts like hell to try and look at, let alone focus on, anything - so lying down in a darkened room is lovely. But also boring. Esepecially when your head hurts too much to get off to sleep.

          And what else is one supposed to do in a darkened room alone...?

  3. Mystic Megabyte
    Stop

    Do ray me

    "once I have more intonation" That's where they're going wrong, you have to *sing* your googly requests!

    P.S. Access to my phone's microphone is denied to Google

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Do ray me

      You'd hope so, wouldn't you?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Do ray me

      I wondered "did she really ask for more intonation".

      Was it here or elsewhere that I recently mentioned a fictional incident in rather-older-than-I-thought sci fi novel and publishing satire "Cyberbooks", where incidentally a voice-activated door lock requires the user to lose his temper and scream at it since that is the voice print that (presumably with some difficulty) he had set to unlock it.

      1. Patched Out
        Megaphone

        Re: Do ray me

        "I’ll ensure to continue sharing your feedback and once I have more intonation, updating this thread as well."

        I think she is inferring that she is working on just the right pitch and inflection to shout at the engineers to properly convey the sentiments of the user forum.

        1. Spike of Bayswater

          Re: Do ray me

          Actually, you are inferring; she may be implying..

          Sincerely,

          A. Pedant

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do ray me

      "once I have more intonation"

      This is a reference to a programming upgrade to make the forum support entity sound more like an actual human rather than a computer generated comment algorithm.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Do ray me

      Access to my phone's microphone is denied to Google

      Or at least, that's what your phone tells you..

      Paranoia isn't wrong if they really are out to get you. And Google most certainly is.

    5. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Do ray me

      Ditto, and I have a Startpage app on my home screen so I never click on the Google bar. Also since my phone doesn't have the RAM to browse the web and when I do there's the risk of something being invoked and turning the whole device to custard. I had to disable the YouTube app completely because it would invoke on any web page with a video on it and it's a big app with a big RAM footprint.

      At startup I go in via the developer settings and disable Motorola Update services since it serves absolutely no function as it is obvious the device has been abandoned.

      My mail apps are set not to check for mail, I use them only to check in emergencies while out and about. But they still invoke themselves and steal RAM space. Android is a nonsense.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Oh noes - my robot won't turn the telly down to listen to me!

    First world problems, eh?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Yeah. Use your remote and quit your whinging. You've already got a useless toy, on top of that it's not working any more. Learn your lesson and buy a radio.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    not an entirely novel problem

    Decades back Dave Allen presented a sketch in which a home automation enthusiast was showing his neighbour all the wonderful voice controlled gizmos he'd installed. As he got more and more impressed the neighbour flopped into a chair exclaiming "well bu**er me!"

    "NO! Cancel! Cancel!"

    One wonders why such devices have become an accepted norm.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: One wonders why such devices have become an accepted norm

      I blame Hollywood, who has for the past decades made it look easy in every sci-fi flick they have made. From the impossible gestures in Minority Report to the abusively simple way voice commands are given in practically any film that uses them (thinking of the original Blade Runner right now - great scene, but still technically wrong), people have latched on to the idea that not using a keyboard/mouse interface is a good idea.

      Well, we'll see how that pans out in the long run, but you'll take my mouse out of my cold, dead hands before I give it up.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: One wonders why such devices have become an accepted norm

        "you'll take my mouse out of my cold, dead hands before I give it up"

        Command accepted.

        Searching for WEAPONS.

        Searching for CHEST FREEZERS.

      2. not.known@this.address Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: One wonders why such devices have become an accepted norm

        "From the impossible gestures in Minority Report "

        MegaTraveller had not just Holographic controls in 1987, but also *Dynamic* Holographic controls - using a complex set of holoprojectors built of and powered by Unobtanium and Handwavium you could not just generate whatever control panel configuration you wanted but you could generate it anywhere "within" your workspace.

        Oh, how I laughed when I saw that old flat panel tech being marketed as some flashy new toy by Hollywood!

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “This is not we were promised with devops, continuous delivery"

    However, it is what some of us expected you'd get.

    Any means of increasing the complexity you can manage will eventually be overwhelmed by the complexity it increases.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forgive me my anti-ludditism

    Well clearly on a tech news site, it's an out of step sentiment, but I like my voice controlled speakers. I can change radio channels when they go to vox pop Rees Mogg love-ins " oh he's so down to earth and cuddly' without getting buttery fingers over everything or my blood pressure spiking dangerously. I don't need to scrabble around for a phone/tablet/mouse when I want to stream a song or two, she nicely turns the light on when i want them on, and when I say goodnight she politely turns them off.

    Not using a keyboard/mouse interface IS a great idea, for things that don't need a keyboard /mouse interface. But then I'm an anti-luddite who never saw the point of using vi when you could use a GUI text editor, so I guess I'm beyond the pale anyway!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Forgive me my anti-ludditism

      "I can change radio channels when they go to vox pop Rees Mogg love-ins"

      If they were that good they'd do it for you automatically.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Forgive me my anti-ludditism

      Reese-Mogg love-ins???

      Sounds like an Americans visual image when hearing the phrase 'British Porn'

  8. Hans 1
    Stop

    Poor helpless kid

    forcing the punter to shout "OK, GOOGLE..." over their telly.

    Bloody hell, he should have his ears checked, how loud was the telly ?

    And, BTW, STOP using those stupid assistants, you moron, they SPY on YOU, FFS!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor helpless kid

      I've always taken the view that I'm spied on anyway. And as I limit my conspiracies to 'if i eat the last strawberry will she yell at me?' Good luck to my personal O'Brien listening to years of 'Alexa, turn on Radio 4' interspersed with 'shut up you vacuous fossil and let the idiot hang himself' to a background of John Humphries' interruptions - and then another 8 hours of silence, although I suppose the hourly 'Hello - this is Microsoft technical support' phone calls before the answering machine kicks in will provide some diversion.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Poor helpless kid

        'Hello - this is Microsoft technical support'

        This is an example of AI never doing anything useful. A good AI would switch the call through to Lenny or the like and then turn the speaker on for your entertainment. A better AI would handle the call itself, learning from past experience with similar calls.

    2. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: Poor helpless kid

      Thank you.

      If the TV is louder than average conversation, it's too loud.

      Fine for the occasional movie, but for daily use? No.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Recycled Apple joke

    You;re shouting at it wrong.

  10. adam 40

    When my wife says "OK Adam"

    I turn the TV _UP_ so she has to shout too....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: When my wife says "OK Adam"

      My Grandad used to turn his hearing aid off (artillery in the war had not been kind to his ears) - and turn Des Lynham or Dickie Davies up on the telly. So when we went to visit you could hear the wrestling/athletics/racing/whatever from when you turned onto his street.

      Amazingly though his antennae would always pick up offers of cups of tea, despite not turning his hearing aid on unless forced.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: When my wife says "OK Adam"

        his antennae would always pick up offers of cups of tea

        Of course it would - it's built into the firmware of the British. After all, our army is the only one in the world that builds hot water boilers into the AFVs. The troops will put up with all sorts of crap but taking away their ability to have a brew at all times isn't one of them..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Heart Bleeds

    Oh dear, lazy couch potatoes have to shout at a device for it to turn the TV over, jez. I remeber the days when you had to get of your arse, walk over to the TV and press a button on it to change channel.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: My Heart Bleeds

      There was automation of sorts back then even. My dad yelled at us kids to adjust the volume, channel, and the rabbit ear antenna. He got his TV programs we kids got exercise from all the running back and forth.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: we kids got exercise from all the running back and forth.

        Reminds me of the massive flat my parents rented when I was a kid. We had a Kolster Brandes radio in the lounge and a remote speaker in the kitchen. Dad used to ask for the radio to be switched on to listen to the news when we were eating. After a while I was able to switch the radio on and make it back to the kitchen before the sound came on.

        This was the model we had:-

        https://www.vintage-radio.com/recent-repairs/kb-er10.html

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: My Heart Bleeds

      I remeber the days when you had to get of your arse, walk over to the TV and press a button on it to change channel.

      You probably CAN do that now. Except that the button is the same color as the TV and is indistinguishable from the inactive plastic frame and any adjacent buttons. If it is labeled at all, the label is not in any known human language, but is instead a "icon" resembling a grasshopper splattered on one's windshield and is equally incomprehensible to speakers of all languages everywhere. On the TV in our living room, the button panel is on the BACK of the TV. That same device has a bright red LED that is ON when the TV is OFF and goes out if you can manage to turn the TV ON.

      (And in that distant past you didn't push buttons to change channels. You rotated a dial that had channel numbers inscribed. Back then, you could scan quickly through the channels because new signals synched and displayed in a few tens of milliseconds instead of needing a few seconds.)

      Ah progress ... But Progress toward where?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My Heart Bleeds

        Ah yes - rotated a dial until it synched in milliseconds to a slightly paler shade of snow, with a flickering image of a man in a grey suit standing against a grey background. Which you hardly ever had to do because there was only one channel and the programmes were basically rubbish.

        The only reason we think that in any way TV was 'better' in the old days is the reason that we think that old houses were solidly built - they weren't, most of them were rubbish, but the rubbish houses fell down and we only have the solid ones left. 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, that's about 6 hours.....

  12. Frank_1958

    And today another day SHOUTING to my Google home mini

    It is almost 6 months now that this problem occurred. Google does really don't know what the problem is. I have spoken (chat/phone) with many Google employees (see in this post https://support.google.com/googlehome/thread/1485731?hl=en) but none of them seems to know where we are talking about. They are all working with standard scripts when solving problem. What a bad level of training and customer service!!!!!

    And today another day SHOUTING to my Google home mini. How many days to follow????

    I am now on firmware 156414 and cast firmware 1.40.156414

    Chromecast audio: 1.39.154182 and Chromecast V2: 1.39.154182

    This is the 6th firmware upgrade since the problem occurred.

    Another BUG is that the the media alarm volume is always set to 40% and there is no way to change that. In the morning you scared you to death so loud is the music. NOT TO BELIEVE THAT GOOGLE DOES NOT SOLVE THIS BUGS

    1. Hans 1
      Windows

      Re: And today another day SHOUTING to my Google home mini

      Try to get a refund and avoid these silly "assistants" in the future, they record many a conversation you have in their vicinity.

  13. Diogenes

    told us this sort of debacle is funny “until because it happens to you.”.

    Ftfy

  14. James Loughner
    Alien

    Sirius Cybernetics hard at work "Share and Enjoy"

    1. VonDutch

      "Go stick your head in a pig"

      FTFY

  15. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Incentive?

    Why would Google feel the need to fix this quickly?

    Given that the purpose of the device is not actually to help you.

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spot the slow news day

      Because you are too lazy to steal it off a neighbour or put a surreptitious tap directly onto the fibre like a proper BOFH?

    2. not.known@this.address Silver badge

      Re: Spot the slow news day

      "now it's just clickbait, copy and paste chrunalism of that clickbait,"

      I'll rise to some of that clickbait and copy and paste from your post, just to ask what is chrunalism?

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