For example, if you have more than one Google Home speaker in your house, I'm sure it's happened where the speaker you're talking to ignores you while a different one in another room entirely tries to respond, right? That's fixable. So is the worst smart speaker communication issue of all -- when Google Home says, "Sorry, I don't understand."
Next time you're frustrated with your smart speaker not understanding you and you're ready to break things off, try one of these five Google Home fixes that usually works for me.
A fix for the Wrong Room, Wrong Speaker problem
It used to baffle me, but for the longest time it wasn't unusual for the Google Home speaker I was in front of to ignore me while another one somewhere else in the house tried to do my bidding. That's a problem when, for example, the command is to "turn on the lights." Don't get left in the dark, just open the Google Home app and modify a setting called "sensitivity." Here's how:
1. Open the Google Home app and tap the device icon for the speaker that's giving you grief (if it's more than one, simply repeat this process until you've got everything dialed in perfectly).
2. Tap the gear icon for settings in the upper right corner, then scroll down to Device features and tap Audio, then, at the very bottom of that screen, tap "Hey Google" sensitivity.
3. Now, drag the slider higher to make Google Home more likely to hear your voice and lower to make it less likely.
When Google Home says, 'I don't understand,' try this
When Google Home says, "Sorry, I don't understand," the good news is that it heard you. The bad news is, of course, it doesn't know what to do in response to whatever you said. There's always a chance Google Home simply didn't catch your command, so you'd be wise to repeat yourself at least one time just to be sure. If that doesn't work, try these other tips:
When all else fails, try the nuclear option: a full factory reset (follow the link for detailed instructions for your specific device).
Do this when Google Home doesn't know its own speaker names
Although you'd think the one thing Google Home would consistently get right would be its own name, it's actually a fairly common problem for Google Home to misunderstand when asked to move something to -- or do something with -- a speaker in another room. Like when you're listening to music, say, and you want to fling your tunes from the kitchen to the living room.
For the solution to this particular enigma, I turned to the always delightful repository of Google Home admiration and knowledge over at the r/googlehome subreddit. In response to a posted video illustrating this particular problem, one Redditor suggested using only lower-case letters when naming your Google Home speakers in the app, and based on the string of "holy crap" responses that followed, it appears to be a game-changer.
The problem could always be physical
This may seem obvious, but if the cloth surrounding your speaker is dirty -- especially if it's clogged with visible gunk -- that could be making it harder for Google Home to understand you. Try cleaning off your speakers so your commands aren't muffled on their way to the device's microphone.
Another possibility, however, is that you just haven't placed your Google Home speakers ideally. Acoustics are a tricky science, and all kinds of weird things -- echoes, sound-dampeners, the joyous shrieks of toddlers -- can interfere with the sound of your voice. Try repositioning your speakers closer to or farther away from where you normally talk to them and see if that helps.
Device names should all sound different, otherwise you're asking for trouble
I know it's hard to get creative when giving names to things like smart outlets or color-changing bulbs, but if everything in your smart home is called "Living room lamp 1" or "Philips Hue color bulb 4," your digital assistant could have almost as much trouble keeping track of them as you do. For a while I tried naming my devices based on their locations relative to a compass, but I could never remember whether the living room lights were north and south or east and west.
Instead of cardinal directions or plain, boring ordinal numbers, now I name my smart home gadgets based on their physical characteristics or the landmarks surrounding them: "couch lights," "tiny lamp," "white credenza lights" and so on. If you want to get real creative, you could always give them actual names you won't forget, like Agnes, Sylvester or Romulus.