- I went on a 10-day trip to Europe and couldn’t bring my Google Home along.
- I realised how much I’ve come to rely on Google Assistant for everyday tasks like alarms, weather reports, music, and white noise.
- Going without the device for nearly two weeks was the only thing I missed about being in the US.
It only took about six hours after landing in Rome to realise how dependent I’d become on my Google Home.
My boyfriend and I were embarking on a 10-day trip around Italy for the wedding of a close friend, along with a much-needed vacation.
It was my first time in Europe and my first vacation since last summer, and I was looking forward to unplugging from technology for almost two weeks. I didn’t purchase international data, I deleted Slack from my phone, and I turned off email notifications.
But as we settled into our Airbnb and got ready for bed, I started to do what I do every night: “Hey Google, can you play the sound of rain?”
Obviously, I was met with silence – and a dawning realisation that I love my Google Home.
“Hey Google, I miss you”
I’ve had a Google Home Max in my apartment for the last several months.
I use it for music and for alarms; for looking things up I’m too lazy to type into my phone; for weather reports and for news reports. I use it as a white-noise machine, as a way to drown out my loud roommates, and as a way to relax after a stressful day (“Hey Google, play Bon Iver radio”).
The Google Home Max has become a comforting – if physically oversized – presence in my life, to the point that my boyfriend and I are embarrassingly devoted to it. We call it “The Google,” refer to the disembodied voice as “she,” and thank it politely for doing its job correctly.
I know there are reasons to be wary of the Google Home. My mum recently told me she thinks all smart speakers are “creepy,” and even the Google Home Max’s little sister, the Google Home Mini, got into some trouble for listening to its human guardians early on (that issue has since been resolved, Google says).
I’m also well aware that my entire issue is steeped in privilege. I missed a $US400 tech device while on a 10-day vacation throughout Italy – it’s not exactly a hard-knock life I lead.
Still, when you have to do without something you’ve come to rely on, you notice the difference. By the end of our trip, my boyfriend and I couldn’t wait to get home to use “The Google” again.
Does this mean everyone should run out and buy a $US400 smart speaker? No (although it really is fantastic). You can get a Google Home Mini for $US50, or load the Google Assistant app onto your phone.
But going 10 days without Google Assistant in my life proved how useful it is, and how much I use it for everyday purposes like weather reports, music, and alarms. I didn’t miss much about America while I was gone, but I sure did miss my Google Home.
Luckily, I’m back stateside now, and once again falling asleep to the pleasant sound of rain.
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