Google Home is getting better and better with each update it gets. But sometimes things aren’t always as good as they sound – and some of you might find that out the hard way if you don’t heed my advice.

A recent update brought the ability to make voice calls directly from Google Home, using a simple “Ok, Google, call…” command. It’s simple and works surprisingly well. You can use a Google Voice number to place calls, or even your own cell phone number by signing in using your Google account.

Google Home lets your kids call anyone

But did you know your children can place calls just as easily on Google Home as you can? Well, they can. And not just your kids – anyone can do this.

And I never even thought of this until I got an email from one of our readers who pointed it out. But that fact is, there is no way to limit or restrict calling to ensure not just anyone can make a phone call using your shiny new smart speaker.

Here’s the email I received from Bruce F. in its entirety:

Greetings Mr. Simons,

That is a very nice/cute and cool feature.

We have never had a smart speaker and used your article to settle on Google Home and try it out today.

These devices are not personal, but household units and I was impressed with the capability to play my music on Google play and answer all sorts of questions. We are hoping that our shorter members of the household are also comfortable to ask and learn.

One great capability is that it can now make calls (we have been Google Voice users since its inception). However, I was surprised (and just got off the phone with Google support) that there is no way to limit or restrict this capability.

The support reps were helpful but they did understand that giving ‘ANYONE’ the capacity to ‘Call Pizza, McDonald’s, HOSPITAL, Toys’ is maybe something we would NOT want. In fact, they pointed out that if kids just say random numbers, like ‘Call 2125647899’, it will dial that number. And when they say ‘Repeat’ to any of their calls, it will do so as many times as they are giggling.

So until Google engineers understand that there are household devices, households may find out the non-funny way how much fun and power this gives the kids (at least our number is blocked when they play these games).

Very much appreciated your insights,

Bruce F.

Fix your shit, Google!

Bruce brings up an excellent point here. I tested this theory by having my 5-year old try to call Walmart, and it made the call, as advertised. Hopefully, I didn’t just plant a seed, though. Next thing you know, 20 pizzas from five different pizza joints will be on my doorstep, and I didn’t order a single one of them.

Google has family accounts these days specifically for children under 13, and Google Home does a great job of distinguishing who’s talking to it. That said, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to create an option that limits or restricts voice calling from unapproved accounts or voices.

Of course, I’m no developer, so it might not be as easy as I think it should be. But one thing is for certain: Google needs to proactively address this in some manner before something potentially bad (or, annoying, at very least) happens.

Cheers, Bruce!



6 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like as a parent, you are too lazy to do your job, or just maybe, people like you shouldn’t have kids.

    • Your comment is pointless.

      What would you suggest to remedy this situation? Duct taping their mouths to prevent them from talking?

      People like you shouldn’t be allowed to Internet, but you don’t hear me complaining. I mean that in a good way.

      • Kinda sounded like you were complaining. LOL

        As long as it can’t be used to prank dial 911, the rest is more irritating than anything … to the people on the other end of the call. Too bad it can’t be used to dial all the Nigerian Princes for free and ask them if they can help you move millions of dollars to their overseas accounts. That’d be fun!

        • I am complaining. It’s not a huge deal, but I can see it being an issue. Google needs to realize these devices are used by an entire household these days. And parents need to realize the implications of owning devices like these.

          That said, I already own 2 Google Home’s and 1 Home Mini, and both kids’ rooms will have one after Christmas. I’m complaining, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

  2. Google is just bringing back the classics.
    Assuming you are old enough to remember when everyone had a land line phone somewhere in the house.

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