At its big product launch event on Tuesday, Google revealed more information about its new digital assistant, which is simply called “Google Assistant.”
Apple and Amazon also have personal assistants, called Siri and Alexa, respectively. But Google refused to anthropomorphize its own assistant with a human-sounding name. Hence the generic “Assistant” moniker.
In theory, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea — after all, why should we need to assign human names to inanimate objects?
The answer? Because it’s super creepy to keep saying “OK Google” whenever you’re talking to your personal, virtual assistant.
Now, Google Assistant is going to be everywhere. It will be in Google’s new Pixel phones, its new Home speaker (similar to Amazon’s Echo), its Allo chat app, and many other places. And Google says everything you say to Google Assistant stays between you and it — everything is private.
Still, even if Google isn’t sharing my private information for advertising purposes, I find it super creepy to constantly address these devices as “Google” instead of some other name that makes me forget that I’m sharing my information with a company — especially one that’s had issues with privacy in the past.
Apple and Amazon nailed their assistants in this respect. Both Siri and Alexa have fewer syllables than “OK Google,” and both assistants have memorable, friendly-sounding names. “OK Google” isn’t that friendly — maybe “Hey Google” would have been slightly better. I would have even been down with “Google Buddy.” Something about “OK Google” feels robotic and not at all conversational.
That said, Google Assistant is a pretty smart AI that can pull off some pretty neat tricks. Let’s just hope the company gives consumers the option to customise it and name it something else other than “Google.”