How to Change Google Home's Name (Wake Word) and Voice - Everything You Need to Know
Google Assistant Language | Voice | Sex | Wake Word | Hacks | Celebrity Voice | and More...
Published: 13th Jun 2019
Machines and virtual assistants are gradually taking over our homes and there is little we can do to stop them. In fact, if you have had a taste of the Google smart home experience, you might be constantly looking for ways to extend your Google Assistant’s functionality.
But for such a helpful assistant, you may feel like having to refer to her in a cold and impersonal way sucks. If that is the case, is there anything you can do about it? If so, how can you shake things up? Well, hang around as we explore everything there is to know about Google Home’s name.
Searching for an answer? Here's our table of contents:
How to change Google Assistant voice on your Google Home device? What is Google Home’s (default) wake word?
By default, Google Assistant responds to two wake words, these are “OK Google” and “Hey Google.” However, the AI assistant can also respond to a little-known but highly delightful wake word, Hey Boo Boo.
Originally, Google Assistant on phones could only respond to “OK Google.” But an update in December 2017 made it possible for phone users too to use “Hey Google” in addition to the other phrase. At this point, these are the only two words you can use to wake your Google Assistant.
Why did Google set OK Google and Hey Google as the Google Home wake words?
There are a number of reasons why Google could have chosen these wake words other than the obvious one – reinforcing their brand. First, their choice is gender-neutral unlike the names of other virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa and Cortana). Women have always been associated with assistant and clerical roles and the idea of a gendered assistant reinforces that idea.
A second reason could have to do with the fact that these wake words do not interfere with real-life identities. The names of Google Assistant competitors are real-life names and you might have someone in your household going by those names. And this causes pretty interesting situations. But Hey Google and OK Google would never cause confusion.
An even more important reason could be that using two words instead of one is more difficult to spoof. For systems that use a single wake word, the chances of false positives are much higher than when it is a phrase. As such, there have been instances of virtual assistants listening to and recording conversations that were not meant for them. Google Home is highly unlikely to wake up at random sounds thanks to the wake word (phrase) choice.
Why change Google Home’s wake word?
In spite of all the above benefits, you might still have compelling reasons to want to change Google Assistant’s wake word. For instance, if for whatever reason you have a pet named Google, then there might be a little confusion between the animal and the AI assistant. It could also be that the toddler in your house finds it hard to say Google.
At times too, Google Home fails to recognize or respond to the wake word, especially when used by a non-native English speaker. In both of these cases, you might wish for a simpler option to give everyone access to the assistant.
Getting the opportunity to customize Google Assistant’s name would also greatly enhance user experience. You might agree that “Hey Google” and “OK Google” do not exactly roll off the tongue with ease. Plus it lacks the personification aspect and might to some users make the whole experience seem unnatural, like talking to a computer.
More importantly, you might have multiple Google Home devices in your smart home. In cases where such devices are in close proximity, renaming one might help avert confusion. For example, if there are two smart speakers in adjacent rooms, you could have a hard time identifying the one you want to talk to. Referring to them by different names makes things clear.
Can you change Google Home’s name to something else?
Unfortunately, for Google Home users, there is no official way to change your Google Assistant’s wake word yet. This means that you have to work with the two official phrases. Alternatively, you could go for “OK Boo Boo” to keep things fun and get your toddler in on the action.
On a brighter note, a Google app teardown revealed that in the future, a new feature might change this situation for the better if it ever gets implemented. An analysis by 9to5google revealed that an update might allow users to give their Google Assistant custom wake words. It is noteworthy though that they conducted this analysis by decompiling an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store.
The files are known as APKs and they contain lines of code hinting at possible future features. However, Google may or may not implement these updates and the interpretation might not be perfect.
With that in mind, the analysis completed a teardown of Google app 7.20 APK and discovered a new option known as “Teach your Assistant to recognize.” This feature would allow users to instruct the virtual assistant to respond to your wake word of choice. The code also revealed that Google Assistant would offer wake word suggestions at the onset. However, even with the new wake words enabled, the Assistant would still be able to respond to the two original options.
Can you change Google Assistant’s accent and voice?
Listening to your AI assistant respond in the same old voice every single day can get pretty boring. Considering that Google Assistant personalizes most things to suit your preferences, it would be great if yours could sound different from all others, right? Unfortunately, getting a completely personalized experience is still a little far-fetched.
On the bright side, you can change Google Assistant’s voice and accent to match your preference and make your experience a little more fun. At the start, Google Assistant had only one voice and then expanded to two voices. But last year, the list grew to include six more voices as announced at Google I/O 2018. Recently, they expanded even further with two more.
With the comprehensive list of options currently available, you can shift between voices every day of your life to keep things interesting. The process was rather complicated in the past as the app had separate interfaces for Google Home and Google Assistant on phone. But now, a change of voice from your Google Home speaker will reflect on the phones connected to your Google account.
To make things even more fun, Google has provided a color-coded interface to let you access this function. The range of colours representing different voices currently includes:
How to change Google Assistant’s voice and accent on your phone?
How to change Google Assistant voice on your Google Home device?
How to change Google Assistant on your iPhone or iPad?
Note though that the entire range of voices is limited to users in the US and that to use them, they have to set their device language to English (US).
Can I change Google Assistant to a man’s voice?
Yes, you can. The range of Google Assistant voices varies from male to female and soft to deep. From these voices, only the two original male and female voices were actually human. The rest of the available voices are totally computer-generated. But on the plus side, they are really great.
What makes this possible is the use of a new technology, which instead of recording snippets of conversations, uses audio files to simulate human voices. As such, it offers a relatively natural speech pattern. This makes it different from the unnatural and stuttering voices we have come to associate with virtual assistants.
To change your Google Assistant from the default female voice to male:
Can I set different voices on my Google Home speaker and phone?
If you have registered your phone and Google Home device to the same Google account, that would not be possible. The only way you can activate different voices on your phone and smart speaker is by registering them on two separate Google accounts. But this would mean no interoperability between the Assistants on the two devices.
How to assign different Google Assistant voices for different users?
If your home has several Google Home users, reaching a compromise on the best voice, accent and language for Assistant might pose a challenge. Probably, the man of the house prefers a female voice while mom would rather have a deep male voice.
Fortunately for you, Google Assistant is bright enough to learn everyone’s preferences. You simply need to go through voice training. This will enable her to differentiate various users. With this ability, the Assistant can respond to every user in the voice they choose.
To voice train your Google Home speaker:
If you are dissatisfied with Google Home’s response to your voice, you can retrain it. To do this:
To train it to recognize other users:
How to turn Google Home’s wake word on and off?
When you are at home, you may wish to turn off the Google Assistant wake word on your phone to avoid confusion when using Google Home speakers. Or you might just need a break from the assistant and opt to switch off the functionality.
To do that on your phone or tablet:
Can you change Google Assistant’s language?
If you live in a bilingual household or are learning a new language and want all the help you can get, Google Assistant can come in handy. You can change the Assistant’s language and make communication easier or get free language lessons. Note that if you change language on one Home device, it will simultaneously change the language of all other devices connected to that account.
To change language:
Google Assistant offers support for more than 30 languages. Some of the available languages include:
How to get a celebrity’s voice to talk to you on Google Home devices
When choosing a voice for your Google Assistant, besides the many color-coded options, you can choose the grey color as well. This one stands for the “Cameo” voice and it allows you to use a celebrity voice that’s currently available.
Although Google Assistant used to be able to melt your heart by responding in the silky-smooth voice of John Legend, this option lasted for only a year. Released in April 2019, John Legend’s voice was removed from Google Assistant celebrity voices in late March 2020.
At present, the current celebrity voice for Google Assistant comes from the American actress Issa Rae and is only available in the US for a limited time. To use Isa’s voice, try saying this: “Hey Google, talk like Issa” and it will immediately make the switch.
Like with John Legend as your assistant’s voice, Google has a list of voice commands that it specifically created for Rae:
If I change Google Home’s language, voice and accent, can I change them back to default settings in the future?
There is no limit to the number of times you can change your Assistant’s voice, language or accent. And whenever you get bored, you can always revert to default settings. Keep in mind though that these changes can limit the Assistant’s ability to understand you. Hence, if you change to a British accent, be sure to give commands using the same (British) accent. Otherwise, there could be a communication breakdown.
Are there any hacks for changing Google Home’s wake word?
As we said at the onset, there is no official way to change Google Home’s wake word. But it is possible to use a clever hack that lets you call your Assistant by any name you fancy. A new concept known as Project Alias has created a teachable parasite to make this reality.
It uses a middle-man device that you place on the Google Home device you want to rename. This device constantly produces white noise to interfere with the Assistant’s listening capability. You need to train Alias to recognize your preferred wake word. When you say this word, it will play a recording of “OK Google” or “Hey Google” to wake your device up and allow you access to Assistant’s voice control features.
Besides allowing you to customize your Google Home wake word, it also enhances privacy in your smart home. Since it is always producing static, it reduces the possibility of having your smart speakers record confidential conversations as they are less likely to wake up mistakenly.
However, building the device involves a rather lengthy procedure, which might be a bit cumbersome for non-technical Google Home users. Hopefully, Google will at soon implement an update to facilitate wake word customization.