Good news 😀
In the last week or so there have been a number of updates to the iOS and the iPadOS Google Home apps. Either with the changes to the Google Home app or some back end system updated, having a Google Nest Hub with more than two radio alarms you can now successfully access the alarm settings in the Google Home app.
I knew it was not an issue with the device, my set up or anything on my end. I am happy that the problem has been resolved but I find it very frustrating that Google could not be transparent and open about having a potential bug in either the Google Home app or their back end system. Not all software created is perfect, as a software engineer myself I should know; but not acknowledging that there are issues or problems to customers is not great either.
At the end of the day my dad is just happy that he can access the alarm settings again in the Google Home app, until it breaks again 😛
I am writing this blog post purely out of frustration and what I feel is the Google Nest support team not being very helpful in trying to resolve the problem or at the very least providing me with information about what the team is looking at or even how to proceed. Right now I feel completely abandoned by the Google Nest team and the more I experience this (along with the bugs and issues) the less likely I would recommend the products to other people (which is unfortunate as I really do like their products). I do not want special treatment or anything like that but just a status update or something to know where my case is at or even how to proceed further.
Over half a month ago my dad came up to me and asked if I could access the Alarm & timers settings page in the Google Home iOS app. I don’t really use that setting so I was like, “I have no idea”, and he showed me what he was seeing on his iPhone. He would open the Google Home app, wait for it to say connected and choose his Google Nest Hub Gen 2. in his room. He would navigate to the Settings page for the device, go to the Audio settings and then finally the Alarms & timers page. The Google Home app would just completely hang and eventually just crash. It is as if there is a bad response coming back from either the Google Nest Hub Gen 2. or Google’s services and the app does not know how to handle it.
I thought it would be best to contact Google Nest support to see what the issue may be and if there is a simple explanation to the issue. Contacting them was fairly easy and straightforward. I feel like the process started very pleasantly but right now I feel completely shafted and lost for what to actually do even though as I will explain I have complete steps in how to reproduce the issue and may explain why the issue is happening.
Much like any good support team member they ask me the standard set of questions:
- Have you factory reset the device?
- Have you tried doing the same thing on any other device?
- Have you tried connecting to the device from another device device?
I factory reset my dad’s Google Nest Hub Gen 2. so there was no alarms and low and behold I could access the device’s Alarms & timers settings. My dad added his alarms back and then the Google Home app once again froze when trying to access the settings. I did the same steps he did to his device to my own Google Nest Hub Gen 2. Same result, the Google Home app just froze. If there are no alarms then there is no issue but as soon as I add a number of alarms the Google Home app completely freezes on the Alarms & timers settings page. I no longer have an Android device that I can readily access but I tried accessing the settings on my iPhone, my dad’s iPhone, my mum’s iPad Mini and my iPad Mini. All had the same result; the Google Home app would freeze on the Alarms & timers settings page. So this is not just an iOS issue now but it also affects the iPadOS version of the app too (unsure if they are identical binaries though).
I let the support individual know what I tried and they gave me more settings to change. The Assistant language should be changed to English – US (which it already was) and to show them a video of the issue which I could easily and readily reproduce no problem.
After a couple of days I got a response and they asked me to try a completely different Google Home home structure. I was a little confused why this would matter and if this indeed fix the problem I would be completely annoyed because I would need to move a large number of devices. So I created a test home structure in the Google Home app and factory reset (again) my dad’s Google Nest Home Gen 2. plus added his alarms back in. This did not work 😦 A further step they asked was to try setting the device up using a mobile hotspot and boy was this process completely messy. I was getting constant communication issues between the Google Nest Hub Gen 2., my iPhone which was the hotspot device and my wifi. I would also need to factory reset the device once again. None of what they have asked me to do helped so far. I was not completely annoyed or frustrated at this point as I didn’t know what was causing the issue yet.
I did some more playing around with the alarms on the device and the settings in the Google Home app. It was with this I noticed something very odd. With no alarms set on the Google Nest Hub Gen 2. the Google Home app would load the Alarms & timers settings page no problem. Adding one alarm and the page still loads, adding a second alarm and it is still fine, but adding a third alarm and the app completely freezes. Okay this is something to forward to the Google Nest support team. So I did. I could reproduce it reliably on all my devices across all platforms (iOS and iPadOS) that I have access to plus how not to reproduce the issue. I thought finally I would get a response saying they are looking at this in more detail now.
Even more time passed now and I got a response back. I was hoping to read in my email that the Google Nest support team got a hold of a commercial Google Nest Hub Gen 2., the public version of the Google Home app on iOS and attempted to add three or more alarms on the device and check the settings page showing that the issue is present; but nope. Not even a recognition that they attempted the steps to reproduce or even if it was helpful at all. All I got was a response saying to turn on device usage and crash report (was already on) and provide feedback when I navigate to the page. But if the support team member had paid attention to my chat, the emails or the video that I sent, the option to send feedback from that page is not possible as the app freezes and crashes after a period of time. Now I am a little frustrated and annoyed. I still politely mention that I cannot perform the feedback step because (as mentioned in the chat and previous emails plus the video) the app freezes and if there is anything more that I can do and if my steps to reproduce were relayed.
Originally I was not going to show excerpts from the emails but I felt it was necessary. The second last email response I got had
We do understand the issue we’re working on. We just need to send feedback and our higher team needs to capture it. Then, I’ll update them for us to proceed to our next steps.
Let me know once done.Google Nest support team member
If they know the issue can they not reproduce it locally on their end? I again ask for clarification in how I can provide them with the feedback necessary if I cannot do it through any of my devices as the app freezes completely. The last response I have got from them was
You may try to use another device.
If not, use your voice command to send us a feedback, “Okay Google, send feedback”.Then, say “<case-number-redacted> unable to access the timer on the Google Home app”.Google Nest support team member
Not only are those steps to try completely useless but I am under the impression that no one on the team understands how their Google Assistant works on the Apple platform and that no matter what device I use the issue persists.
Right now I have little to no hope in them resolving the issue and for the time being accessing the alarms will need to be done through the actual Google Nest Hub Gen 2. and not the Google Home app. It seems like there may be some communication issues and some small quality control problems happening at the moment. Fingers crossed this gets resolved soon but I don’t have my hopes up. If you too are experiencing the same problem as me, please let me know. I also posted in the Nest Community forum to ask if others are seeing the same thing and if they know of a workaround, the post can be found here.