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Google Assistant’s new white noise is driving parents crazy – here’s why

Ok Google, change it back.

google home on table with google home app on phone
Image: Unsplash

UPDATE 1/19/2021 9:24 AM ET: As a result of the backlash, Google Assistant’s original white noise sound is back. The original story follows below.

Google has seemingly changed a feature that sleep-deprived parents everywhere have been relying on. That’s right, Google Assistant has a new white noise track, and everything is terrible.

See, it used to be that you could reliably ask Google Assistant to play white noise, and it would dutifully loop an hour-long recording for 12 hours. It can also play other ambient sounds, like the ocean, rain, or even a thunderstorm.

The problem is that now the hour-long white noise recording has been swapped out. Instead, Google Assistant now plays a new, quieter white noise track that loops at a shorter interval. You can see how that could be problematic for anyone who was used to the louder, longer recording.

The Google Nest Community is full of posts complaining about the change, and the only common thing is that nobody likes it. Parents of small children are reporting they’re waking during the transition, or are not being able to sleep in the first place. The loop length isn’t the same for everyone either, as reports between ten minutes to thirty before the sound loops have been made.

The other big issue is that the sound seems muffled. Some users have resorted to turning their Nest speakers to 70-percent volume to make up for that, but then any other notifications come through at ear-splitting volumes.

Twitter hates the new Google Assistant white noise sound

People have gone to Twitter (as is typically the case) to talk about the change, and the general consensus is that it is terrible.

https://twitter.com/leibel/status/1482225018742480897?s=20

Good looking out, Google. It’s only year *checks notes* three of a global pandemic, and you decide to put a new white noise sound onto Google Assistant. It’s not like anyone was using that to sleep, or anything…

At least Google is aware of the issue. The @madebygoogle has been replying to the irate Twitter users, saying that “they don’t have any details to share” while also asking which specific words the users are saying to get the white noise. That could mean that the change wasn’t intended, and Google will be able to change it back.

Maybe it’s time to get a dedicated, can’t-be-updated-over-the-internet white noise generator. I used one of ASTI’s LectroFan models with our little one, and it worked great. The big bonus here is that the white noise is non-looping, so there’s no jarring transition like the Google Assistant sounds.

UPDATE 1/19/2021 9:24 AM ET: As a result of the backlash, Google Assistant’s original white noise sound is back. Apparently, Google was aware of an issue that impacted the white noise used in Google Assistant and fixed it. “There was an issue impacting our white noise experience. It’s fixed now and working as it previously did,” notes a community manager in a Google Nest community forum.

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