We’ve already explored some ways in which you can make Alexa more companionable during our current stay-at-home existence; naturally, there are plenty of ways to do the same with Google Assistant.
If you like, you can change the sound of Google Assistant’s voice (a trick that Alexa can’t do, aside from celebrity cameos), teach it your nickname, and even engage in some surprisingly authentic back-and-forth with her (or him, depending on which voice you choose).
Change the sound of Google Assistant’s voice
If you’ve grown tired of the vaguely sterile sound of Google Assistant’s default voice, switching to a new one is an easy way to get a fresh start. Ten different voices (including the standard Assistant voice) are available, with both male and female options, plus the voice of American or British accents. You can also pick the voice of Issa Rae (co-creator of HBO’s Insecure) to take on a few of Google Assistant’s standard duties, including answering questions, giving you weather reports, and telling jokes.
To change the sound of Google Assistant’s voice, open the Google Home app, tap Settings, then scroll all the way down and tap More settings. Tap the Assistant tab, tap Assistant voice, then swipe the slider to pick an option, anything from Red (the standard Google Assistant voice) and Orange (a male voice) to British Racing Green (a British voice) and Sydney Harbour Blue (a voice with an Australian accent).
Tell Google Assistant your nickname
No, you can’t change Google Assistant’s wake word as you can with Alexa, but you can change what Google Assistant calls you. By default, she’ll call you by the first name listed on your Google account, but if you like, you can have her call you by a nickname or any other name you like. (If my eight-year-old had her druthers, she’d make Google Assistant call me “stupid-head” or another pithy second-grader name.)
To change your nickname for Google Assistant, open the Google Home app, tap Settings, scroll all the way down and tap More settings, then tap Nickname under the You tab. You can then either spell out your nickname or record it to help Google Assistant learn to pronounce it.
Turn on Continued Conversations
It’s hard to maintain the illusion that you’re actually chatting with Google Assistant when you’re having to say “Hey Google” every single time you say something to her. Luckily, Google Assistant has a setting that makes it easier to forget that you’re talking to a machine. Once you enable the Continued Conversations feature, Google Assistant will keep listening for follow-up questions after an initial command.
On a practical level, that means no more having to say “OK Google” over and over if you’re asking her to set the volume level for your tunes. On a more touchy-feely level, Continued Conversations make your chats with Google Assistant flow much more naturally. Here’s how to turn on Google Assistant’s Continued Conversations feature.
Say “please” and “thank you”
Like Alexa, Google Assistant is quite receptive to courtesy. Assuming you turned on the Continued Conversations feature, Google Assistant will respond with a “You got it” or “No problem” if you say “Thank you” after she’s followed a command. It’s a simple touch that’ll make your chats with Google Assistant much more personable.
Try chatting her up
Google Assistant can be surprisingly good at carrying on a conversation. If you ask, “Hey Google, want to chat?,” she’ll cheerfully agree, and if you encourage her (“what do you want to talk about?”) she’ll suggest topics of discussion. For example, Google Assistant offered to reveal her secret crush (Jarvis from The Avengers, she told me), and then she asked if I wanted to hear “something weird” (such as the fact that bees have two stomachs). Or you could ask Assistant she wants to do something fun, and she’ll tick off some options.