Google Home

We have 3 Google Home units in the house:

  • 1 in kitchen: the accoustics in this room are horrible; it’s echo-y, and it doesn’t help that Ali often listens to bass-heavy hip hop, so it made sense to have the full home unit in here, as opposed to the mini. This has been working out, and the mic is more reliable with the full unit in this room too.
  • 1 mini in bathroom: this is great for music in the morning while getting ready while taking a shower.
  • 1 mini in living room: wirelessly connected to a Chromecast Audio that’s wired to an input to a mixer, so we can request songs and have them play on real speakers for party fun times 🎉

We had Alexa in the house for a week before we started playing with Google Home, and we found that her voice recognition was spotty, and she did a poor job answering questions for us. Google excels so much more at answering random trivia questions that pop up here and there.

Common uses

  • Playing music
    • “Play Billy Joel on all speakers”
    • “Play the latest Bon Iver album”
    • “Start a station for John Coltrane”
    • We can suffix any playing with “on all speakers” to have the whole house play the same music.
  • Home automation
    • “Turn off all lights”
    • “Goodnight”
    • We don’t have light switches near the door in 2 rooms: easier to request on/off by voice
  • Asking Google questions
    • “What’s the weather like today?”
    • “What time does Best Buy close today?”
    • Asking random questions is useful when friends are over and we’re debating over a fact that we would otherwise search for on our phones. This lets the search be done in public, and no one has to disengage to their phone.
  • Even though I don’t have a Google Play Music subscription, Ali does, so I can request songs ad free in the same home.

Misses

  • Playing music in one room, then requesting to continue playing the same song/playlist/station on all speakers is not possible.
  • Because of the way more recent songs are named, it can be tricky to get her to understand what song you want, especially hip hop tracks. This can actually end up turning into a game to get her to understand, but kind of a pain in the ass.
    • ME! by Taylor Swift
    • SICKO MODE by Travis Scott
    • Also APESHIT by the Carters is also hard to play for some reason
    • Good luck requesting N**gas in Paris at a mixed race gathering
  • We sometimes dog sit our furry friend named Kula. “Hey Kula” triggers Google every time, likely because of the first gutteral followed by the L sound.
  • When folks are drunk and yelling at her and fighting over the next song to play, it can be a shit-show.
  • More than once, Google will start playing music out of the blue in the middle of the day. Freaky.
  • There have been times when Google doesn’t connect to a light for some reason. I’ll end up using Apple Home to control it instead.
  • Cheap-assed licensing from Google Play Music
    • I suspect that licensing dictates which version of a song is played by default, and more recently, live versions or strange re-recording of songs have been playing instead of the more popular versions
    • If I give a more specificity in my request, like saying the name of the artist, I find that I’m more likely to get the song that I want. This doesn’t give me confidence in the system: I expect to have to use less brain power to get the song I want to hear rather than more; I don’t care about licensing, just give me my tunes.
    • Right Now by Van Halen seems exceptionally difficult to play
  • I subscribe to Apple Music, so my playlists are not visible to Google Home

I find myself missing Google Home when traveling, especially for playing music and asking random questions. These are pretty much daily occurances, so it’s become ingrained in our habits now.

That all said, we do absolutely wonder if these mics are recording more about our daily lives than we’re comfortable with.


Questions? Comments? I'd love to see your message in my inbox. Send me an email.


More Thoughts


little memorylittle countdownNerd Tower
©2018-2019 Ivan Tse