the IT city, the I.T. Baby


Google Assistant getting a bit kid-friendlier

My now-9yo started interacting with Google on a Google Home device back in 2016, and for the past several years there have been some options for child controls and answers, but our Home/Nest Hub devices have been mostly relegated to music and YouTube videos. A blog post by Google today indicated there were new options and family controls now available.

This appears rolled out yesterday to one of my Nest Hubs. I was asked what happened to Google’s voice and I had no idea why a random man’s voice was talking to my child when it’d been assistant default for literally her whole life. They added four new voices that your kid can swap between by saying “Hey Google, change your voice.” No idea why it forced a change though, perhaps kiddos were asked and it ended up doing that. No clue.

Google Assistant kids dictionary

Age appropriate answers and explanations hopefully will be provided now with Kids Dictionary. This means my 7yo’s joke of walking in and saying “According to Wikipedia…” is probably at an end after a highly successful two-year run.

Notably absent is the ability to see activity in Family Link, and less than useful prompts to “use your child’s device and go to …” which if you’re dealing with a Hub only your child doesn’t have a device you can access.

Still lacking ability to block content generally deemed age appropriate that contains keywords or hate or derogatory speech… yeah, there’s plenty of name-calling videos classified as appropriate and we’ve had to have the conversation that it may be age appropriate but calling someone a Karen ain’t nice.

Also appears to me to be missing are the ability to lock down what you can do at night granularly… my kids like music or white noise to sleep occasionally. Sort of depends on weather. My kids do not need to have access to YouTube or the ability to set timers after bedtime, use Broadcast, cast music from unit A to B, etc.

It’s something… the Kid Dictionary reminds me of the STEMOSAUR, which launched in 2017 and would answer age appropriately. Unfortunately it answered in a voice and speed that put off both of my kiddos. Both my kids were annoyed by the new Google voice, I guess it’s got that going for it.

[Google Blog]

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.