Why can’t I change the Google Home wake word?

We can’t show you how to change the Google Assistant wake word, but we can show you how to have some fun.

Anyone with an Amazon smart speaker can opt to change the “Alexa” command word, so surely those who have one of Google’s smart speakers, smart displays or an Android phone should also be able to do the same? 

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to change the wake word for Google Assistant. The only wake words that are currently supported are “Hey Google” and “OK Google”.  

However, there’s a good chance that something vaguely similar will still work. Our tests found that you can also say “Hey Boo Boo” or “OK Boo Boo”. Other variants that rhyme with – you’ve guessed it – Google also seem to work, such as “Hey Dougal” or “Hey Boogal”. 

All of these work without having to change anything in your settings. 

A Google Nest speaker on a table against a bright blue wall to illustrate how to change the Google command wordCredit: Google

Why can’t I change the Google Home wake word?

Google hasn’t given a plain answer

One reason could be that Google Assistant supports multiple languages and as each of these come with their own language-appropriate wake word, it may be too big a job to allow everyone some sort of personalisation. 

The one good thing about Google’s wake word is that it’s unique and isn’t a name that your family or friends will share, reducing the chances that it will be set off accidentally.   

Even though you can’t change the wake word, there are a few things you can do to personalise your Google speaker. 

Change the voice of your Google Assistant

You can choose between male or female

There are currently two British voices to choose from, one female and one male. In the past, Google has also teamed up with celebrities such as musician John Legend to lend their voices to the Assistant.  

Screenshots showing you how to change the voice on Google AssistantCredit: Saga Exceptional
In the UK, you can choose from a male or female British voice for your smart speaker

To change the voice: 

  1. Open the Google Assistant app on your phone. Tap on your profile icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Tap on “Assistant voice & sounds” and then click on Assistant Voice. Tap circles to preview the available voices.
  3. Select the voice you want Google Assistant to use. Tap the back button (the arrow in the left-hand corner of the screen) to save and exit.

If you want to access even more voices, you can change the language (see below) to English (US) and you’ll get more to choose from – but bear in mind that most of them are American. 

Change your nickname

Help Google understand your name

You’ll be asked for your first name when you register your device, but if you then pass it on to someone else or prefer a less formal version of your name to be used, you can still change the name Google Assistant calls you.

Screenshots showing how to change the nickname on you Google AssistantCredit: Saga Exceptional
While you can’t change the wake word, you can change the name your smart speaker calls you

To change your nickname: 

  1. Open the Google Assistant app on your phone. Tap on your profile icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Tap on “Nickname”.
  3. Choose the name you want the Assistant to call you. You can play the way it will sound so if the AI can’t quite pronounce your name right, there’s an opportunity to spell it out phonetically. 

Change the language spoken

Hola Google!

If you want to talk to your Google speaker in different languages, you can change the settings via your app. When you add a language, you can speak with the Google Assistant and it will respond in the same language.  

You can use up to two different languages on each device, but while you can talk to the Assistant in your choice of language, you can’t mix them up in the same command. Also, bear in mind that some features aren’t available in all languages.  

Screenshots showing how to change the language in the Google AssistantCredit: Saga Exceptional
You can choose two languages for your Google Assistant to understand and speak in

To change the language: 

  1. Open the Google Assistant app on your phone. Tap on your profile icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Tap on “Languages”
  3. Tap on “Add a language” and choose from the list.

Want to try Google Assistant?

There are a few ways to do so

If you’d like to try out the Google Assistant there are a few ways to do so, from smartphones and tablets, to smart speakers and displays and even your TV.

Phones and tablets

All smartphones and tablets which run Google’s Android operating system provide access to the firm’s smart voice assistant.

This includes all phones and tablets from major manufacturers such as Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Motorola, Oppo and of course, Google itself (plus many more).

You can even get Google Assistant on your iPhone or iPad if Apple’s own offering – Siri – isn’t working out for you. For this to work you’ll need to download the Google Assistant app from the App Store.

Smart speakers and displays

Another easy way for you to try out Google Assistant is to purchase a smart speaker or smart display with it built in.

Google currently has a modest quartet of devices which allow you to utilise its assistant around your home; the Nest Audio and Nest Mini smart speakers and Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max smart displays.

Featured product

Nest Mini

RRP: £49.00

Nest Mini

Featured product

Nest Audio

RRP: £89.99

Nest Audio

Featured product

Nest Hub Max

RRP: £219

Nest Hub Max

Featured product

Nest Hub (2nd Gen)

RRP: £89.99

Nest Hub (2nd Gen)

TV

If you have a smart TV with Android TV, you’ll be able to access Google Assistant.

And if your TV doesn’t have the support built in, you can purchase a Chromecast with Google TV which simply plugs into the HDMI port on your television and gives you access to a range of services and features – including the voice assistant.

Featured product

Chromecast with Google TV (HD)

RRP: £34.99

Chromecast with Google TV (HD)

Featured product

Chromecast with Google TV (4K)

RRP: £59.99

Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Updated:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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