A Suggested Feature: Day & night volume levels for Google Home Assistant (mockups included)

Updated: http://ux.jonathanhaber.com/2017/04/30/suggest-tweak-revised/

Problem:

Limited Volume Settings Leading to Unwanted Loud Google Voice Responses at Night

Solution:

Allow the users to easily set day / night volume levels at their discretion making use of standard material design interaction elements.


Google Home Assistant is a great way to interact with your smart home devices, but sometimes Google’s volume level is not so smart.

Most nights I used a custom Stringify flow to tell Google Home “Goodnight” and a second later my TV is off and all my lights are turned off except for the bedroom and bathroom.

My Google Home responds “Goodnight!” with the volume set to wake the dead from my morning routine of listening to the news at max system volume while brushing my teeth.

A simple solution: introduce time / volume settings for Google Home.

Here is a quick and dirty mockup I made based on the current Google Home screens on iPhone.

I have added a new option in the settings menu for Day & night volume control. See above.

The feature itself is fairly straight forward.

  1. Enable the day / night volume control.
  2. Set a volume level.
  3. Set a day / night start time. 

Outcome

This allows the user to, for example, always start the day at volume 9 once the time has passed 5:00 AM.

or

This means that if your significant other is asleep in the next room and it’s after 10 PM the Google Home won’t shout out “Goodnight” or “Performing Action” or “Turning 10 lights off” loudly waking them up.

Thanks for reading.

Note: This may not be pixel perfect as it is used for illustrative purposes only. Mocked up in Sketch.

Any product that needs a manual to work is broken? No!

Have you seen quotes like this around the web?

 or 

Well I am here to tell you to think carefully about these quotes.

Don Norman makes an important distinction in this quote from the Design of Everyday Things:

“When a device as simple as a door has to come with an instruction manual—even a one-word manual—then it is a failure.” – Don Norman

I want to say that I believe Dr. Dray would offer more nuance to her above quotes if I asked her. I picked her quote only as it was easily found on UX / HCI quote website found through Google. (Fun Fact: Dr. Susan Dray is well know for rapping during her talks at CHI. She makes handmade bracelets in her spare time and loves giving them out to anyone that asks.)

When things are simple, a door, a shower, a simple mobile game, they could be said to be a failure of design if they require a manual to understand or use, however, this is not the case for a lot of more complex tasks / products.

Imagine if we said the design of piano was a failure simply because it takes hours of careful practice to learn to use effectively. Know what else takes some skill, practice, and instructions to use… our favourite everyday interaction devices, the keyboard and mouse.

If you ever get a chance to see someone use these devices for the first time you would be amazed.

Instructor: “Lets start by pointing the mouse to the folder on the screen”.

Student: Picks up mouse and touches screen with it.

The keyboard on the other hand takes hours of practice to use well and often contains many poorly labeled function keys. Why do we keep using such complex input devices over simpler ones? Because once you learn how to use them they are very functional, accurate, and fast to use.

When designing software for power users or complex tasks simple is not always best. 

While less is often more, when it comes to software sometimes more is more. Don’t be afraid to take some risks when designing software, sometimes something that takes some skill and time to learn will be more useable in the long run.