I love being able to yell across the room to tell my Google Home to fast forward a song or play the news. But whenever I try to use Google Assistant on my Pixel within earshot of the always-on speaker, the Home almost always intercepts, even if I need something only the Pixel can do, like search my contacts or set a reminder — which Google Home still can't do. Sometimes we need to stop Google Home from butting in, and thankfully, it's really easy to do.
And you don't even have to get off the couch to do it.
"OK Google, Turn off the microphone." This will turn off the mic without touching your Google Home, but this is a one-way control, as once the mic's off, it can't be heard to turn itself back on. That's why we have buttons.
On the back of your Google Home, there is a single button featuring a mic icon with a slash through it. This is the mute microphone button. Press it once and your Google Home will announce "Microphone off," muting its microphones and allowing you to use Assistant on your Pixel — or anything else you need without a
sentient being harmless assistant listening.
If it starts telling you it's about to reset itself, release the button before it reaches the end of the glowing countdown.
While your mic is muted, you'll be able to easily Home isn't listening. Google lights up the four cardinal points of the Google Home's top-mounted display in a warm warning orange.
When you're ready to let Google hear you again, press the mute button once more. The orange lights will disappear, and your Google Home will cheerfully tell you "Microphone on."
We shouldn't have to do this…
That the mute button is so necessary is a travesty. Sure, the ability to turn the mic off when you don't want Google and goodness-knows-who listening is fine, but to have to mute the Google Home mic because you want to text a reply using your voice while Mountain View's air freshener is in the room is ridiculous. 'OK Google' is recognizable on six devices at different points in the room and can even distinguish which device hears you best, but even if you're talking directly into your phone ten feet from a Google Home, it'll try to respond instead. That's some great listening abilities, but it's not always useful.
We hope that this behavior changes, but right now, we can only hope. In the meantime, we'll be ready to mute our Homes so that we can get what we need to done without Google Home butting its nose in every time we Google a Chinese takeout place to call.
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