Hey Google, I’m using that button!

Every time another Google app or feature is eliminated—even a small, relatively inconsequential one—I get annoyed, really annoyed.

Here’s the thing: I have Google Assistant-equipped devices in three rooms of my relatively small house: my living room, my bedroom, and my office. Unfortunately, this means that when I say “Hey, Google” loudly into my phone, I get the same reaction from one or more of these three devices. (Yes, I know this shouldn’t happen, and no, we can’t fix it yet.) And they sometimes provide different answers at the same time, which makes things even more confusing.

This is what I get when I click the microphone icon in search.

To avoid this unfortunate situation, I’ve gotten into the habit of simply clicking the little microphone in the search bar instead of saying “Hey Google.” This way, the phone is the only device that responds to my voice commands. In public, this means I don’t have to say the awkward phrase “Hey Google” out loud where others can hear me. )

Whenever a software maker abandons a long-standing feature—and at the same time Google is one of the worst offenders here, and it’s certainly not the only one – it’s always claimed that the feature is “underused”, or doesn’t really matter, or is being replaced by a better app, if not the exact same app.Sometimes, I want them to be honest and say, “We’re laying off a lot of people, including the people who monitor this particular app,” or “We just found out there’s a serious security issue here, and we don’t want to get sued,” or “What the hell, we have a shiny new project.”

Of course, the company in question will usually offer some kind of replacement. For example, when I want to access Google Assistant on my phone, Google recommends that I now say “Hey Google” (just not, for the reasons mentioned above) or long-press the power button.

Aside from the muscle memory I have for clicking that damn microphone icon, it took me some time to get used to not using it and switching to the power button. To fix this – at least for now – I’ve moved the Google Assistant icon to the Dock at the bottom of the screen, just above where the microphone icon is. So when I automatically press the microphone, I remember I can’t use it to access Google Assistant. Now I just move my thumb up a little bit to do what I need to do.

Eventually, I know, I’ll get used to it not being there. After all, it’s just a minor annoyance. In a mess of things.

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