Imagine if every time you opened Gmail in the morning, you got a notification reminding you that you could attach files from Google Photos to your emails. Wouldn’t that be incredibly annoying? On an unrelated note, ever ask your Google Home what the weather is, only for it to then “helpfully” suggest you set up the “Good morning” feature? Or check sports scores? Or tell you how to play the news? Or one of a handful of other not-very-useful tips and tricks you in no way asked for? You’re not alone, and neither are you alone in the realization that there is no guaranteed way to stop these useless engagement experiments.
Like any software product, the Google Assistant would very much like you to use it more often. That’s why Google Home tosses in these trite additions to your various queries for seemingly no reason other than to annoy you — the hope that you’ll use the Assistant for more things, more frequently, on the supposition that maybe you just didn’t know it could do said things. While I can understand the motive for the means, I don’t feel the justification is there. Google may look at the average Home user and see some incredible number based on the deployment of these suggestions, that perhaps 10% of people are likely to then utilize the suggested feature in the next 30 days. For the Google Home team, this is a very important metric — measuring user engagement as a key indicator of a product’s success is extremely common in the tech industry, and a few ruffled feathers over unwanted suggestions is something they’re likely unfazed by.
You’re at the algorithmized mercy of whatever’s happening on Google’s end when it decides to send you one of these suggestions.
While I absolutely understand that not every one of the Assistant’s features is going to be easily discoverable, the kinds of things Google tends to suggest are incredibly simple and mundane, the sort of actions anyone who took even a passing interest in what smart assistants can do would just know to ask out of hand. It’s not as though Google is telling me that it sees I have a smart door lock connected, notices I’ve never locked it by voice, and tells me that I can use the Assistant to lock my door. That kind of deeper, personal context — the kind of learning and machine intelligence I’ve come to expect from Google — is not at all a part of the suggestions experience. Everything my Google Home suggests to me is utterly generic, aside from the “Good morning” suggestion, which seemingly only occurs in the morning when I check the weather.
While some articles suggest the Assistant will respond to interrupting suggestions with “no thanks,” no surefire method for disabling them has yet emerged. There’s no setting in the Google Home app (and even if there was, I suspect it’d be absolutely buried beyond any normal person’s means to find), and no “brief” reply mode that the Assistant offers similar to that of Amazon Alexa. That means that you’re at the algorithmized mercy of whatever’s happening on Google’s end when it decides to send you one of these suggestions.
It’s time for Home’s suggestions to go the way of the dodo, Google. At the very least, an easy way to turn them off would be a godsend — I’d even take a simple voice command (“Hey Google, don’t give me suggestions anymore”) that just deactivates them on any speaker or smart display linked to my account. As is, it’s simply a bad user experience, and one that I’ve found actively reduces my desire to interact with my Assistant smart speakers and displays.