Google Adds Sensitivity Adjustments For Smart Assistant Devices

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Google Assistant-enabled devices are getting a brand new sensitivity setting, rolling out now. The search giant has reportedly confirmed the news, indicating that this will be a slow rollout. That’s following screenshots of the feature appearing on Twitter, shared by XDA Developers’s Mishaal Rahman.

The purpose of the feature, found under a label reading “Hey Google” sensitivity, is to ensure that Google Assistant doesn’t incorrectly respond to its wake words. Those are “Hey Google” and “Okay Google.” The screenshots shared of the feature show that can be adjusted on a per-device basis.

So if there are one or two speakers in a group that respond accidentally more often than others, those can be adjusted down. On the other hand, if there’s a smart home device that’s been placed in a loud environment, it might not hear the wake word. There are plenty of other circumstances that could occur under as well.


Here’s how to access the new “Hey Google” sensitivity setting

To adjust the sensitivity, the screenshots reveal that users need to navigate to an individual device’s settings. Those can typically be found in the Google Home app under a tap on the desired device and then on the Settings icon. The desired menu can be found by scrolling down. Specifically, Google placed the new Hey Google sensitivity option under the “More” subheading. It’s the second option down in that section.

Tapping on that will reveal a relatively simple UI. That’s complete with a slider bar and the name of the Google Assistant device that’s being adjusted. Users can slide that in either direction from the default position. Sliding to the right will make the device more sensitive to the “Hey” or “Okay Google” wake words. Sliding to the left will have the opposite effect.

Users may need to adapt that over some time to find the appropriate setting. Moreover, the settings page warns users that optimizations it is still making to the feature may change the level of sensitivity. So users may need to make further adjustments to the AI in the future to account for those optimizations when they arrive.

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This won’t be a quick rollout

Now, Google ordinarily shares some sort of timeline for features when they begin rolling out. And the company already hinted that Assistant would be receiving a “Hey Google” sensitivity setting near the end of 2019. But this time around, the search giant has also said the feature will “roll out gradually.”

So users probably shouldn’t expect it to arrive immediately, but it is on the way.

That’s hardly surprising either. The feature and its associated settings menu placement will also be appearing in multiple places throughout the Google Home and Google Assistant ecosystem. So there’s not just one switch for the company to flip before it’s available for everybody.


Perhaps more pertinently, Google’s efforts have been focused elsewhere amid continuing global health concerns. The company has also decreased its hiring for the remainder of the year, in conjunction with that, so the slow rollout may be, at least partially, linked to that.