A curious thing happened inside the Google Home App recently. A ‘card’ appeared within the discovery tab announcing that “Google Home now supports multiple users”. Here is the message in it’s entirety:
Multiple users now supported: Now, you and others in your home can get a personalized experience from your assistant on Google Home
This is the news every Google Home user who doesn’t live alone has been waiting for, the ability to have your information relayed specifically when you interact with it. While this news has sent the Google-verse into a spin, you shouldn’t get too excited yet, as the card seems to have been sent out by mistake, and the functionality this card purports to give, sadly isn’t there. It seems that someone at Google has jumped the gun slightly, as the card has also been removed now, but not before many people screen-grabbed it and posted their shots on Reddit and other such sites.
It may be disappointing that we still don’t have this killer feature working in the wild just yet, but this surely means multiple user accounts are on the horizon. When implemented, we hope that a whole host of different options will become available that were previously omitted due to privacy concerns. Setting reminders, sending messages, and adding to the calendar app, are all things users have been clamoring for since they are all functions we are used to executing via Assistant on our phones, and in reality will allow Google Home to become a useful device in most households rather than the interesting but limited device that it currently is.
The evidence for multi-user support is mounting
This isn’t the first time we have seen evidence of multi-user support either. Early in March, Android Police published an article showing some suspicious code within the Google Home app that pointed towards multi-user switching, so the latest rumor should only serve to cement the idea that this much anticipated feature is almost certainly on it’s way, and as much as we can’t wait for it, it is essential that Google does this right, from the start. There are plenty of security issues they will have to deal with first, and releasing this capability should be done only when Google is sure it wont lead to any issues for their users. One small flaw in the design could lead to some extremely brand-damaging reports, something that Google is sure to sidestep as much as possible while they are currently embroiled in a head to head battle with the Amazon Echo for control of the home environment. If people don’t trust it, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that, and definitely something to bare in mind while we wait impatiently for the update to drop into the public domain.
Amazon to bring same functionality to Echo
Speaking of the Amazon Echo, multi-user interfacing looks like it is also set to become a bigger part of their ecosystem too. While multi-user accounts are already available on the Echo and Dot, you have to switch between them manually. This can be particularly tiresome if you want to listen to music, but aren’t the primary account holder. At moments like that, you will have to switch back to the primary account, which isn’t ideal. The good news is though, both Google and Amazon seem to be addressing this issue, and you can bet your bottom dollar when one does it, the other will soon follow.
One question still remains in regards to multiple accounts on Google Home, how it will tell users apart? If could implement a physical switch over, much the way the Amazon Echo does, but what would be really interesting is having Google Home recognize your voice, and immediately link to your account. There could be security issues with this, such as voice recordings being used, and what level of audio fidelity is needed for the device to ‘unlock’, but what some experts think is more likely is a combination of voice recognition and device placement (i.e your phone might need to be on the same Wi-Fi network). As long as the changing of accounts is accurate and safe, I’m sure there won’t be too many complaints whichever way they decide to go. As soon as we hear of any updates, we will be sure to let you know.
Images courtesy of the Google Home press kit