Guy asks Google Home for temperature, and things get weird

A Redditor poses a simple question, and gets a baffling reply. Turns out machines don't always have the answers.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
2 min read

Most of the time, voice-activated tech works the way we want it to, but as one Redditor with a Google Home Mini connected to Nest recently found out, it can't be right every time.


"Hey, what's the temperature inside?"

Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Reddit user shiek403 felt cold in his bedroom one night, so he asked his device, "What's the temperature inside?" The answer didn't make any sense.

"It is currently 60 degrees inside," the familiar voice responded. Confused, because he was sure he'd set the temperature to be 65 degrees at night, shiek403 opened his Nest app. Sure enough, the Nest was set to 65 degrees. He then asked his Home Mini, "What is the Nest temperature?" The Mini responded, "The temperature is currently 66 and the Nest is set to heat at 65."

Now thoroughly baffled, he put a post up on Reddit explaining the situation, and asked if the Google Home Mini had its own thermometer, which could explain the discrepancy.

Very quickly, another Redditor had the answer:

What is the temperature in Side! The Google Home Mini picked up on what shiek403 was saying via voice recognition, but interpreted the question as straight text. Since it's common for people to ask "What is the temperature in San Francisco?" or "What is the temperature in London?" it makes perfect sense a search engine would assume that question refers to a city. A human would understand the difference immediately, but the machine takes the words at face value. With the temperature in Side, Turkey, so confusingly close to the temperature in the Redditor's room, you can hardly blame him for turning to the internet for answers. 

Google didn't respond to a request for comment, but maybe our Home Mini will have something to say.