So for Christmas 2017 I got 2 Google Homes and I was really excited because I’m really into the idea of home automation and virtual assistants. The first chance I got I plugged them in, downloaded the app, and got them set up. After messing around with the units a little I went ahead and got the Philips Hue lights set up and grouped them into rooms, then got them connected to my Google Home and was able to control them with my voice, and I was happy.
After little use I started to notice some issues and figured I was just doing something wrong and didn’t think much more about it. After a while things weren’t getting better and I started to do a little research and found that I wasn’t the only one having these problems, in fact not only are others having these problems but it seems like Google isn’t fixing them either. You would think a year after the launch they would have fixed some of these problems but it seems the opposite, they’ve only made them slightly worse.
I understand this is a hardware problem and Google would need to recall the units to fix it but I’ve found that I have to almost yell for my Google Home (GH) to hear me when I’m standing just a few feet away. I understand that I have a slightly deep voice and that I have to speak up but even then I get no response for either of the GH’s. And I know I’m not the only one, I read in several reviews that others had the same problem, some even put a GH and an Amazon Echo side by side and called out to each one and the Echo could hear the the person while the GH couldn’t.
The main reason I went with GH over Amazon’s Echo was access to my Google Play Music account, I wanted the ability to just say a song in my library and hear it. For some reason when I ask for a song from my library, say Motorhead Ace of Spades, GH instead say’s “ok check out this Motorhead playlist on Google Play Music”, not the song I asked for. I’ve even tried building playlists in my account and even then when I say play my Motorhead playlist GH comes back with “ok check out this Motorhead playlist on Google Play Music”. To be fair on some rare occasions it has played the song I’ve requested, but it is rare. I read some reviews saying that they can get music purchased through the Play store to play but not music they’ve uploaded, so since I have both bought and uploaded music in my account I tested it and got the same “ok check out this (insert band name) playlist on Google Play Music”.
What’s my solution? Well if I only what to hear one song while I’m doing something quick I just give up and do the task in silence, but if I working on something for an extended period of time I end up opening the Play music app on my phone and casting to my GH. If I had known this is what I would be doing I would have just bought a Chromecast Audio and used some of the old speakers I have instead.
I have seen one fix for this and it’s been hit or miss in my experience, first you go into the GH app and un-select Google Play Music as you music source, then ask you GH to play a song, it will say something about there’s no music source selected, then you select Google Play Music and ask it to play the song and it would work. This has worked for me, not every time but some times, but if I do this and get it working, listen to some music, then go away for a few hours, when I come back I have to do it all over again. So even this fix isn’t worth the hassle.
What really amazes me, even though it wasn’t a selling point for me at first, is that GH doesn’t really work with other Google services. Sure it can read my calendar to me, and perform basic searches, and remind me of events, but yet I can’t add to my calendar, and I can’t edit Google Keep notes just to name a few. The fact that a Google product doesn’t work with other Google services right out of the box makes me question Google commitment to the GH project as a whole, when I see reports of the Amazon Echo working with Google services better than the GH I just think they don’t really care about the GH and have moved on now that they’ve got their money from us suckers.
I’m a deep sleeper and I need a really loud really annoying alarm, I have an alarm set on my phone that has sirens, horns, guns firing, and all kinds of loud noises, GH’s alarm is a soft melody that I’ll just sleep right though. Why is it I have been able to change the alarm sound of my phone for years but yet GH won’t let me change the alarm sound? How hard is that?
Ok/Hey Google is annoying and sets off multiple devices
I absolutely hate saying “Ok google” or “Hey Google” every time I want to active a GH, I’ve actully started to hate saying it so much that when I want to turn on lights and my hands are free, I just pull out my phone and do it though the app instead. Why Google hasn’t come up with something like Alexa, or Siri yet dumbfounds me. Seriously Google just let me say “computer” or “Jarvis” or something!
Another issue with OK/Hey Google is that it also actives my phone. My phone is either on my desk or on my nightstand and in both places it’s right next to my GH, so I’ve resorted to turning off the hot word on my phone since I wasn’t using it that much anyway just so I can stop activating the phone every time I active my GH. Again Google new hot word.
I had high hopes for Google Home, intelligent conversion would be nice if it worked solidly (I’ve had it work once or twice). Sure having Google search built in is nice but most of the time I end up looking things up on my phone or computer anyway since I want a more in depth answer than what GH can give me, so no real advantage there either. If I could ask a question, get an answer and say “send results to my phone” and have a search page opened up when I unlock my phone, then it would be useful.
I understand that when it launched Google Home was version one, but it’s not like it was the first to the market, Google Home should have been at least as good as Amazon’s Echo if not better, but sadly it seems that the people at Google were more interested in shipping a half backed product than actually competing and making a great product. The really sad part, for me at least, is I was once a huge fan of Google, I thought Google was the best and jumped on everything they did, but after getting burned multiple times I’m starting to understand that I need to take everything from Google with a grain of salt, and that the old joke stands true “Google is a bunch of engineers looking for a manager” which is sad because if they would get their head out of the clouds trying to create the lasted and greatest, and instead just focus on improving what they already have, Google could do great things.
In the end would I recommend anyone buy a Google Home? No, at least not now. For now go with Amazon’s Echo, I know I’m looking to make the switch.