Google Assistant hotword bug could keep your screen awake indefinitely

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Google Assistant is superb when it works the way it’s supposed to, and 98% of the time, it does. Unfortunately, no bit of software is perfect, and if you own more than one device with “Hey, Google” hotword detection enabled, this useful tool can go awry in unwarranted ways.

Okay Google, we need to have a chat about Assistant hotword detection, particularly for users with multiple active devices in earshot of one another. Our founder was talking to his Google Home one day when he noticed his Pixel 3 listening in on the conversation, and it didn’t stop listening, even after Google Home had taken care of his request.

Artem’s not alone in his plight, either. Another Android Police writer, Taylor Kerns, experienced a similar issue with his Pixel Slate. Also when speaking to his Google Home, Taylor’s Pixel Slate started listening to the conversation and got stuck in the “active” position.

This same bug was reported on the Google Assistant forums in September, when someone’s Assistant remained active on their Pixel phone after their Google Home completed a query, and again in October, when one person woke one morning to find their OnePlus 6T battery at 1% and Assistant hanging out on the homescreen. Other reports can be found on the Google Pixel subreddit from this month, last month, and also back in February of 2019. With the exception of the OnePlus 6T incident, most of the events – including those from the Android Police team – involved Google Homes and Pixel devices.

Thankfully, most people were able to catch the problem and manually put their hardware to sleep without incident. However, if left to their own devices, having Assistant stuck on could cause problems, such as inconvenient battery drain or worse, devastating screen burn-in on LED-based handsets. That said, this Assistant hotword bug doesn’t pop up all the time; Artem was unable to reproduce the issue following his initial tweet, and the posters in Google’s Assistant forum and Reddit also experienced intermittent results. However, the fact that at least a handful of owners have suffered from this issue means there are likely other users out there who have encountered a similar problem.

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