Getting in sync
THERE’S a funny story behind the name Google, and, yes, you can Google it.
In short, the word Google was inspired by a mix of tech-nerd brainstorming, a little word play and plain old error. Be it good management or good fortune, it’s proved a touch of genius that the world’s premier search engine has such a familiar, nonthreatening feel.
There’s no offence in telling someone to “Google it!” while “Bing it” sounds far more aggressive and “AOL it” is just ridiculous.
That user-friendliness is even more significant now that Google has entered the smart home hub market with the Google Home smart speaker. This voiceactivated personal assistant has me regularly calling out “Hey Google” in the privacy of my own home, which, to be honest, still feels a little odd but it’s surely nowhere near as peculiar as “Hey DuckDuckGo”.
Quick to synch with my home wi-fi, Google Home was swiftly able to tell me the answer to my most pressing initial questions.
“Hey Google, what time is it?” … and “Hey Google, what’s today’s weather?” had me armed with the answers in seconds in a new hi-tech whiz-bang way without that archaic hassle of, say, looking at my watch or, heaven forbid, looking out the window.
Then we got more personal. “Hey Google, how old am I?”
Now, I concede, I was disturbed by the answer on two fronts. Firstly, that Google had access to that info and, secondly, just the brazen way it threw the answer at me. “Hey Google, learn to be a bit more diplomatic next time.”
I suddenly had a rush of concern. “Hey Google, where do I bank?”
Thankfully, my new home helper had no idea … unless she (it has a female voice) was keeping secrets!
“Hey Google, are you spying on me?”
Google anticipated that one and directed me to the privacy settings but it was interesting how, within minutes of making acquaintance with a new allknowing friend, that I had that unsettling feeling that she might just know a little too much.
I quickly discovered there are many limits to Google Home’s “knowledge” but she says further programming developments are expected.
For instance, she told me who coached the Cats, but added a reference about soccer to prove that she didn’t know much about footy.
Google gave me answers for local phone numbers and provided street directions to local places, though as a man I am preconditioned to be sceptical of a woman’s advice on such matters and this might take a bit of getting used to.
When asked, Google did tell me the results of various sporting contests around the world and what was topping the ARIA charts. Playing music, too, from Spotify or YouTube Music was easy to set up.
Asking Google to play a radio station and to give me the news from the Geelong Advertiser gave me an indication of the sort of daily functionality that might see me create a home for Google Home when I get over the novelty factor of playing its two-player trivial pursuit.
Setting the alarm was also a breeze. “Hey Google, set the alarm for 7am” … but I haven’t yet tried “Hey Google, set the alarm for 7am … and then snooze for 10 minutes … and then snooze again for another 10 minutes.”
It was surprisingly no help with the TV guide. Goodness, does it expect me to use a remote or something! (For the record, “Hey Google, where’s the damn remote?” goes unrewarded.)
You can actually bypass using a remote control (they are soooo yesterday) if you synch Google Home with Chromecast, which makes me wonder where it will all end up as there are other appliances designed to be voice activated through Google Home.
But they are a command too far for me at the moment. For now, I am just getting to know my Google Home and taking time to explore and enjoy our evolving relationship … and to get over my techno paranoia.
“Hey Google, do you like me?”
*For a limited time a Google Home smart speaker (RRP $199) can be yours when you sign-up as a new
Geelong Advertiser 12-month digital subscriber. The review version was provided by Google.