By requiring introductory word(“Hey Google”) as trigger, Google has forced an element of conversation

By requiring introductory words(“hey or ok Google”) as triggers, Google has forced an element of conversation – insight from a perspective of User Experience Designer, Johna Paolino.

Two simple User Experience Design gestures that delighted a female user.

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I felt very unsettled and found myself constantly agitated as I observed my boyfriend bark commands at this black cylinder.

  • Alexa, turn off the lights. Alexa, set my alarm for 8am

This declarative speech was so incongruous with how he interacts with me, with how he interacts with any human.

  • Ok Google, play NPR news. Hey Google, set my alarm for 8am.

Why did these interactions suddenly feel so natural? They felt appropriate. In fact, I was delighted by my new Google Home.

Although product features differ slightly, the root cause of my emotional shift had nothing to do with these capabilities. All the feelings I had for Alexa came down to two simplistic user experience design differences.

Was there a need to rename the voice component of these products? Why isn’t it Echo or Amazon? Why not Apple? By doing this, we’ve subconsciously constrained the capabilities of a female. With the Echo, we’ve even gone as far as to confine her to a home. The experience difference here is huge! When I return to Alexa now I feel authoritative.

The voice component of the Google Home however is simply triggered with “Google”. Google, a multinational, first-of-its-kind technology company. Suddenly a female’s voice represents a lot more. This made me happy.

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The advancement of feminism requires awareness from both genders. It isn’t isolated to how men treat women, but extends to how women treat each other. I am constantly making an effort to change my behaviors towards other women, and in this effort certainly prefer how I am asked to greet Google. Thank you Google for paying closer attention to the details, and to the female users.

P.s. If you’ve kids, give it a thought, what these interactions with digital assistants would teach them, how to ask for something. Little things like these, that you don’t even see, can make such a huge difference, as they grow up.

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2 thoughts on “By requiring introductory word(“Hey Google”) as trigger, Google has forced an element of conversation

Add yours

  1. Dan Hirsch True, it’s the user.

    But how many users change that wake word, in fact, how many normal users even know about having choices of wake word? Other than power users, most users don’t bother. So, as a User experience designer, you’re bound to think, what effect this will leave on normal users.


  2. But her findings are based on the wakeword “Alexa”.

    Which is the default – I get it. However if you choose to change it to: Amazon, Echo, or even Computer it´s not the product – it´s the user. (e.G. her Boyfriend 😉


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