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4 min read 80 comments

Why do some people refuse to use Google Assistant?

If you haven’t heard about this yet then you’ve been living under a rock: Google Assistant is on its way to all devices running Android Marshmallow and up. While the personal assistant seems to draw in crowds, some people are still resistant to Google’s AI. Why aren't these people swayed by a more modern and comprehensive technology?

Change can be difficult. New things are scary because they're unpredictable. Although change is generally synonymous with progress and improvement nowadays, some people remain skeptical of new technologies. Google Assistant is no exception to this rule: despite how impressive and useful the technology is, it hasn’t gone completely mainstream. Why?

Google Assistant could be seen as useless

What can Google Assistant do? Many things. Google lists its abilities on its website. In short, you ‘chat’ with the Assistant by asking it questions and giving it orders. This can range from simply gathering information for you, to carrying out actions in an app, to using your personal information so the app can be tailored to your needs. In short, it can do many things. But, most of the useful features (alarms, searches, etc.) can be carried out ‘the old-fashioned way’, meaning by opening the app and entering information yourself instead of asking the Assistant to do it for you. Doing things the old-fashioned way might be a hard habit to break, but it's up to you to decide which way is more efficient for you.

google home
Google Home listens discreetly like a spy. © Google

Perhaps the concept of talking to your phone is simply hard to get used to, so an adjustment period will be needed. On the other hand, I personally find Google Assistant more interesting for connected objects, especially with Google Home as it allows you to control many things around the house. 

Giving up private data can be uncomfortable

This subject comes up time and again, and I must acknowledge that it’s slightly complicated. I’m the first to be skeptical of methods used by Internet giants, as their strategy is to use our personal data for advertising purposes, and it’s a business model that we have to accept in order to use their services.

That said, with Google Assistant, the story is a little different. One of Google Assistant’s main aims is to enter your private life in order to help make life easier for you. While I don't know to what extent Google has access to stored information or if it is used for advertising purposes, Google Assistant simply wouldn't be useful without sharing your personal information with it.

For example, if you don’t want it to have access your calendar, it won’t be able to tell you when you have a meeting coming up. In other words, you can’t have an assistant if it isn’t allowed to know anything about you. Not wanting to share information with Google is a problem that can't be gotten around in this case, as there is no Assistant without Google.

Plan B: Google Now

If you’re a skeptic, you’ll be thrilled to learn that it is possible to replace Google Assistant with the good old Google Now (yes, yes, even on the Pixel). Contrary to what you may think, there are no major changes necessary to make this happen. It can all be done in the settings: just configure your device's language to a zone where Google Assistant isn’t available. If you want to have your device language set to English but you don’t want Google Assistant, just find a region where Google Assistant isn’t available, like an island, for example. This solution is probably temporary, so you won’t benefit from it for long.

Would you use Google Assistant? Or are you too concerned about privacy?

Readers' favorite comments

  • Brian Wilson Mar 17, 2017

    It replaced a fairly solid performer in Google now and now on tap. It takes an extra step to get to now cards, the new updated now on tap is useless. All I ever get is "I'm sorry, I can't do that yet". It actually removed options.
    Plus. No type input. No one wants to talk to their phone on public. Except that guy taking to his watch.

  • B Russ Mar 17, 2017

    My Moto Z with 2-3 day battery life features dedicated always-listening: Google Now ready to respond to my voice even when the phone is asleep and sitting across the room. ...As did the 2013 Moto X before it.

    Moto has handled Google better than Google itself. Moto X users know it. Users have essentially enjoyed Google Assistant (or Now) for three years now. No, in fact, better: TOUCHLESS Google Assistant (or Now).

    Silly Google, "Assistant" is nothing new and you know it! For years now we could talk to Google to set alarms, open apps, navigate, do searches and get spoken answers. Without even touching the phone or waking it. Three years and I still can't do without this functionality.

    So since we already have spoken conversations with Google built into the Moto phones, give me back my dang Home button! Until last week I could hold the Home button to instantly see reminders, parking location, weather, news, Google widgets, all right there. No speaking necessary.

    The new Google Assistant offers none of those powerful things... unless you talk to it -- a ridiculous hoop to hop through, a pointless noise-making extra step. Speaking is nice sometimes, but sometimes silence is essential too. I already use and want BOTH.

    Until holding the Home button brings back the blissfully silent On Tap feed along with the spoken Assistant option, I'm uninstalling the updates back to the factory install of Google On Tap / Now, so that I can use my dang phone! Using it, as always, including the always-on option to speak to a fully touchless Google Assistant or Now or whatever name you want to give it tomorrow -- just like we have since 2013. Cheers.

  • Mark Cline Mar 17, 2017

    I don't want my phone talking to me all the time. Can't hear it in a crowd, and don't need everyone else hearing it in a meeting or on public transport. Maybe if I could shut her up, I would use it.

  • Greg1100 Mar 17, 2017

    My life is my own- not interested in talking to inanimate bits of plastic. Almost as crazy as people looking for pokemon.

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  • In my attempt to not personalize the Artificial Intelligence item (Google Assistant) I have found I simply detest this little "helper". I have tried to calmly announce her annoying little two word request. "Ok Google" ---- and then give a quick question. If that's all that is involved and I can tolerate/be helped by her info -----then it's "OK". BUT ....if there is any follow up or clarification needed----its a nightmare !! Ok. Not 100% of the time. But let's just say.... a good 85% of the time. How is that not just pretty darn annoying? And how is it and WHY is it that Little Miss Ok Google can start off with a fairly polite voice but if you try to ask further or clarify --- she gets rather snarky ?! What's that all about? (Meaning: who programmed that?!)
    AND....when she gets a tad snarky and you ask " do you have more info?" She often kind of flips on you and gets defensive. How is that possible?! Does it happen all the time? Nah. Maybe others don't notice or don't use much in the way of follow up comments. But it makes me wonder instead of Ms. Snark why isn't a relaxed male with a bit of sunshine in his deep voice available?

    A little less snippy, please,miss.
    :)


  • Nice little Google prop piece. Do you really think people don't use Google Assistant out of fear of change? The fact is it is far less intuitive, cognitive and functional than Google Now. I don't care how nice the voice sounds if it doesn't do the job it's useless. I am constantly given the least useful or wrong information. I've given it 2 months after it was forced on me with the latest Android update. I'm turning off Google Assistant today because it's worthless. Really a shame.


  • t md 9 months ago Link to comment

    My biggest concern is that I only used my original google now to allow me to safely call a phone number by bluetooth or send a text. using the handfree.
    But now this has all been lost into Google Assistant that wants access to everything in my phone. IT IS MY PHONE AND I DON'T WANT YOU TO SEE WHEN I LAST HAD A SH1T!
    But this Health and Safety feature has now been removed from Android phones. I hope Google can pay for the onslaught of litigation that is coming due to not being able to use handfree (google assistant refuses to use the bluetooth to inform of it's actions and insists on using a small speaker in a noisy environment to inform you it is making a text message to an unknown person containing unknown information because you cannot hear it while driving) and the corporate murder charges because people are having to refer to hand use of mobiles after the Failure in it's Duty of Care towards it's users.


  • Sorin 10 months ago Link to comment

    So my guess is because Google Assistant does not know what the Lottery winning numbers will be, who will win the Grand Final, why the stars do not fall in the sky, or why the Earth is spinning around the Sun.
    Or maybe because when I say OK Google, the assistant will answer politely Ok Sorin, I know you, I know you really well ! You know ?!


  • such a decent post.it contains quality information.


  • turn off my google history because of this


    • I just turned off/disabled any and all "voice" anything on my phone. Google is very useful, but I don't want it talking to me.


  • I dislike EXTREMELY having devices talk to me, and I'm not in the habit of talking to them, either, except maybe to cuss at them. I use my phone to talk to other humans, but I have no plans to EVER speak directly to the phone itself. I'm Timothy Leary's brother (ReallyReally Leary (sic)) about AI; in fiction, the beginning of AI is the beginning of the end of the human race, as the machines ultimately figure out that humanity is nothing but a virus to be exterminated ASAP. No thanks, HAL!


  • OK if no-one is around you. Otherwise background noise interferes with it and do you really want everyine to know what you are searching for?


  • Why isn't Assistant just the new version of saying Ok Google? That did all of what i needed and did it better. I now live in the US Virgin Islands., according to my phone that is.


  • I got it on my Note 5; I don't want to talk to my phone for any reason. To make it worse, I cannot escape it when I press the home button; I'd press it if I wanted Google Now, but I get that damn AI. I shut it off, but I miss Google Now. I ended up putting a Google search widget back on my home screen.


  • It isn't all that smart. Mostly i get, "I don't understand". That is the only thing it says. Every time i give it a command an obscure yet related web site pops up. I've got an LG V10. My gals LG Nexus 5X has the same Qualcomm 808 and 1 gig less RAM and runs it nicely but on my phone it is a total dud. It will probably get better as time goes on but right now it bites a big wet one.


  • Keep the sparkley unicorns, just let me use my bluetooth headset to send a group text, like I could with me previous eye-phone.


  • The biggest thing that I don't like even with Google Now, is how very much the system talks back to me. Decades ago when they started programming voicemail responses they were smart enough to add options for abbreviated prompts. For example, when I tell Google to "read text", it annoys me to no end for it to come back and tell me "you have one new text from John Smith, it was received at 12 p.m., do you want to hear it?" Let's see, did I just say read text? Of course I want you to read it!
    I don't want to have a "conversation" with my phone. I just want to say something and have it do what I tell it to do.


    • Agreed. And then it's not consistent. Some searches it talks back and others it just displays. Go figure


  • Seems as you have been out looking, lol


  • I agree with most of the comments out here. I feel, overtime Google has become more of a show off company. It wants to show how cool it is but leaves the usability behind. Google Assistant is a classic example. Technology wise it's advanced but it's less usable to its predecessor Google now/ on tap.
    So evident that -
    1. I could copy text from anywhere including pictures with now on tap.
    2. I could setup reminder, alarm and do other useful things without yelling at Google Assistant
    3. Extract contextual information from any thing on the display with just tapping and holding the home button.
    4. Finally why do I need to call out Google Assistant to get basic stuff done? Should I not be able to type in from my meeting room or a crowded place.
    Hence, I used a hack to avoid Google Assistant and went back to Now on Tap by selecting 'English - Virgin islands' in the choice of language. Hope common sense prevails over tech-sense.


  • Really simple. It's not available on my phone. I use a Samsung Tab S2 8.0 as my phone and we don't have a recent enough version of Android yet... And it's not clear if Google will consider it a phone or a tablet...


  • I think they should add the typing input and the Google app icon that leads to it as in it did in Google Now when we held the home button, apart from that, I've taken a liking to Google Assistant, we all know google will add better features soon, like recognition to a number of useful apps and stuff, just hope they don't take long to release the Brazilian portuguese version since in Allo it already exists.

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