This post isn’t really about mobile tech, but Google’s “AI” Assistant is also available on Android phones. So there’s that.
Last night, on a post-dinner stroll past The Eaton Centre, the girlfriend and I happened upon this pop-up Google Home Mini Donut Shop. It was closed for the night but will be open again today if you’re planning a visit to downtown Toronto. If you are then there’s two things you should know: (1) the foodie verdict is that the donut supplier, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, is terrible, with baked goods better suited to Instagram than your actual mouth; (2) what’s ultimately being peddled here is of dubious value to you and I.
The upside for Google is obvious. Their cheap and cheerful Home Mini plants a permanent microphone where you live that’s always listening—at least for the trigger phrase that activates its software assistant. Massive implications for your privacy aside, I just don’t get the point of Google Assistant at all, if there even is one. Like I said, I’ve got it on my phone, and to me so far it seems like a more cumbersome version of voice search. I don’t really need my phone talking back at me when there’s already a beautiful HD screen in front of my face that can show me the same information in a better way.
It took the better part of a decade to sway people from talking on their phones to typing on them. In that way Google Assistant—and Siri, too, for that matter—feels like a regression.
Back to Google Home, I’ve an old high school friend who swears by his. He’s constantly telling it to set reminders, read him the news, change the volume on his Google Home… Hearing him gush over it honestly perplexes me, and certainly keeps me from wanting to drop by his place for a visit. I suppose I could see some value in it for people with mobility issues, but here’s a thought: the more people rely on these things the more they risk ending up with mobility issues of their own making, if you get what I’m saying.
So someone, anyone, please enlighten me as to what I’m not getting about Google Home. Or Google Assistant. Or HomePod, Alexa or whatever else. And in the meantime enjoy your free donuts in Austin, Brooklyn, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Madison, Manhattan, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, St. Louis and Toronto. Check the Android Police link below for dates and times.