Google services, including YouTube and Gmail, went offline for about an hour on Monday evening, leaving a large portion of Internet users helpless. It was not just a tiny problem, but a global failure that not only made Google services inaccessible on the web, but also impacted smart devices, such as Nest speakers. The effect was so severe that a man on Twitter claimed he had to sit in a dark room because of the malfunction. This may sound strange to you, but that’s entirely possible, considering how the internet has crept into almost everything we use today. Before I tell you what happened, a little about the short-lived failure.
So today, when Google suffered the global outage around 5pm, its services went down a few minutes before Google restored them. Google has an extensive network of services that blend in so that it favors the comfort of a connected ecosystem than the manual one. This largely depends on smart devices that use Google Assistant and its services to connect with each other. But because the outage affected each of them, Joe Brown, who refers to publications like Car and Bike, had to testify, which could be a precursor to the impending dystopia that most tech experts feared.
Brown said he was sitting in the dark in his toddler’s room when all this was happening because the lights at his home are controlled by Google Home. Google Home is the first-generation smart speaker, controlled by voice and with the help of Google Assistant. The speaker is sure to allow you to control things like smart lights, smart fans, security cameras and other internet-connected devices with Google Assistant, which was one of the services that stopped working for a while during the outage today. Because Assistant is the core service governing smart devices, the outage has affected smart lights at Brown’s home.
I sit here in the dark in my toddler’s room because the light is controlled by @Google Home. Rethinking … a lot now.
– Joe Brown (@joemfbrown) December 14, 2020
This is a scary situation when you realize that you may not be in control at all. Contrary to the comfortable thought of ordering a Google Assitant (or Alexa or Siri) to change lights for you, a single problem left you high and dry, even helpless, because the lights can’t work without Google’s services. Although this may not apply to all smart devices that offer some manual interference. But the main point here is to revisit our tendency towards connected devices and the bites associated with them. These times make people think that they have chosen regular light switches, lights and other home appliances that are far from malfunctioning because the internet is not involved.
Brown’s tweet, which also reads, “rethink … a lot now,” depicts a frightening picture for people who have a very strict voice-controlled ecosystem. A single mishap can cause the entire ecosystem to temporarily collapse, and there could be nothing feasible about it. Similar to Brown, several people mentioned how today’s situation was pretty scary. And while these people were discussing the disadvantages of internet-controlled devices, one of the Twitter users offered something that could be chewed up by ie tech companies.
Every time Google falls, a thousand nerds scream, wishing they’d install effective light switches pic.twitter.com/MscOpGqrnl
– Shit Internet (@internetofshit) December 14, 2020
He said smart devices should use local area network instead of relying on the cloud infrastructure, which can cause internet disruptions in case of a single failure. His suggestion makes sense, especially when such a malfunction shows what could be terribly wrong with the cloud. Nor is it something entirely new. Google has done several offline services, such as Live Captions on Pixel devices, that don’t need the internet to function and depend on the device’s resources. Well, I’m not sure how this good idea can be implemented. I just want to make sure Google (and Amazon, Apple, Samsung) are listening.