Aishwarya Ramesh

When a Google product got in the way of a Google ad...

An ad for Google Nest mini, played on loudspeaker, accidentally summons Google's Assistant when played aloud.

The following ad for Google Nest Mini first appeared on the YouTube masthead and appeared inconspicuous enough.

Did you listen to the above ad with headphones? If not, and if you are using an Android phone, it's likely that you ended up accidentally summoning the Google Assistant more than once. The Google Assistant is a feature on Android phones which acts like a virtual secretary - carrying out tasks within the phone and finding information from across the internet. It is similar to Apple's device-based assistant, Siri and Microsoft's assistant Cortana.

It's as if the copywriters of the ad didn't quite think this through. Google Assistant has a simple call to action to open on Android phones - saying the phrase 'Ok Google' out loud activates the virtual assistant. The script of the ad uses the line multiple times and when the voices in the script call for Google, nearby Android devices tend to spring to life. It's possible that the writers of the ad assumed that those who'd be viewing the ad, would be doing so on their phones along with headphones/earphones.

In the course of the ad, different family members are heard asking different things of the Nest Mini in different voices, accents, and languages. This is part of Google's attempt to make the device more user-friendly and literally speak to the users in the language that they're most comfortable with. An official Google blog post mentions that the assistant is now available in more than 90 countries, and assists more than 500 million people every month to get things done across smart speakers and Smart Displays, phones, TVs, cars and more. Google Assistant also offers content translation services across 42 languages, such as Hindi, German and Spanish. The Nest Mini tends to be one of the popular devices that users purchase when they're experimenting with buying a home assistant for the first time. Here's a detailed video on how the Google Assistant works.

Interestingly, the video mentions that Google has a feature in place to ensure that the Google Assistant doesn't get automatically activated, but the Google Assistant on this reporter's phone came to life as the video drew to a close...

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