Google rolling out ‘Hey Google’ sensitivity setting

Here's how you can delete Google Assistant voice recording data.
Image: Cody DeBos | The Burn-In

The Google Assistant is probably the best digital helper out there. Amazon’s Alexa is a close competitor. Even so, the integration of Google Assistant with the search giant’s online ecosystem is hard to top.

If there is one gripe that users have, it’s that saying “Hey Google” to activate the digital helper can be either too hard or too easy. Soon, it won’t be an issue. According to a report from The Verge, Google is working to roll out a feature that lets users customize their Google Assistant’s voice detection sensitivity.

Accidental Activation

Users don’t need to scramble to their phones to download an update. Sadly, the feature isn’t active just yet. Waiting for the rollout will require some patience considering that Google’s workforce is operating from home at the moment.

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Nonetheless, Mishaal Rahman, editor-in-chief of XDA Developers’ was able to access the sensitivity setting by tweaking some source code. He posted the sneak peek on Twitter on Tuesday morning.

If the screenshot depicts the version that will roll out to users, it appears that the ability to customize the Google Assistant’s voice detection sensitivity will be a simple slider bar. Users will be able to adjust it from “Least sensitive” to “Most sensitive.”

That two-way adjustment is important. After all, users have reported a wide variety of issues with the Google Assistant’s voice detection. Some find that it wakes up when a TV show says “Hey Google” in the background. Others have to repeat themselves several times to get the Assistant to pick up their voice.

Rahman was able to activate the feature by altering the Google Home app’s code. While that doesn’t mean that users should start messing with their code, it does mean that the feature should be arriving soon.

Indeed, Google noted that such an update was in the works back in September. It isn’t clear when the rollout will begin for the majority of users. However, Google did confirm that it is starting to “gradually” unveil the feature.

Stop Listening

The changes made to the Google Assistant’s voice detection should be universal across every product it operates on. Some discrepancies can be attributed to the microphone found on each device but for the most part it should work on everything from Home Minis to smartphones.

It comes at a time where users are sitting at home and using their Google Assistant more frequently than they might normally. Simultaneously, staying home has increased the public’s perception of privacy thanks to issues that have cropped up with services like Zoom. The new feature is designed to decrease the number of times Google Assistant is accidentally activated.

Users will have peace of mind that their digital helper is only listening when they want it to—not when it thinks it should be. At the same time, those who struggle to activate their Assistant will have an easier time getting help without having to shout over background chatter or music.

Be on the lookout for an update to the Google Home app as that is where the feature will likely be found.


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