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‘Annoyed, feel violated’, say users as Google hasn’t fixed Speech Services bug for over a month

The bug: The Speech Services for Google app won't stop downloading and a user can't 'force stop' it. Android users have been commenting on the issue since at least January.

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New Delhi: It’s been nearly a month since Google’s ‘Speech Services by Google’ app first had a bug, the tech giant is yet to fix it, and people aren’t happy.

The bug: The app won’t stop downloading, and a user can’t ‘force stop’ it.

The issue is listed as “trending” on Google’s official blog for users to post issues they are facing with their Android devices and seek help from other community users. The first complaints about the issue online seem to have surfaced around January 2022, though users have been complaining on unofficial boards since November last year.

What is ‘Speech Services’?

The Speech Services by Google app is meant to convert speech to text. The app has been downloaded over 10 billion times globally since it was launched in October 2013.

The Play Store description says it is the app that Google Maps uses when a person looks for places on the map using voice command.

Voice recording apps can use this to transcribe audio.

This app, like other Google apps, requires extensive permissions. It has access to a mobile phone’s microphone, phone storage and its contents, and has full network access. The app can “download files without notification” and prevents the device from going into sleep mode which preserves energy when the phone is not being used.

Also read: Who legally authorises data interception & on what grounds: A study of 5 democracies

‘Google, please fix this’

Android users across the world, including in India, have posted negative reviews about the app on Play Store as well as the official Google community support blog.

A user named ‘Val Carlill’ on 9 January posted, “google speech on android phone wont stop downloading” and that the update “Has been downloading for 2 days. I didnt ask for it (sic)”.

“Having the same issue here – Samsung A10E – Frustrating”, posted user identified as ‘User 5423170626333816264’ on 10 January.

“Same here with Nokia 5.3”, posted another user Beatfoxygen W. Hithsheerw – Illpower.

“also on a VIVO phone. i feel violated”, wrote another user with ID ‘this guy, not that guy’.

One user, Partho Kr Pal, wrote: “From last 1 month it always shows *Downloading English US update and waiting for network connection*”. This user further said despite a stable internet connection, the download does not seem to complete, nor can the notification that the app is downloading be removed. Restarting the phone doesn’t work either. “I am really very annoyed by this notification”.

User Arun Chandran said the latest update is not downloading fully “and the notification cannot be removed from drop-down menu… Need a solution ASAP”.

Fawwaz AZ said: “It’s bit annoying the notification(waiting for network) comes up everyday and i force stop it and its gone for that day and again comes back on the other day and im tired of doing that, solve this issue google or fix this (sic).”

Google’s response

Google is yet to formally respond to the issue. ThePrint reached the communications team at Google India through email on 2 February for a response. The company’s reply was: “We’ll check with the team and come back to you on this asap.”

A follow-up email was sent on 3 February, to which Google replied: “We’ll come back to you as soon as there’s an update to share”.

On 4 February, an email statement to ThePrint from a Google spokesperson read: “We are aware of this issue and are working to resolve it at the earliest.”

So far, users have suggested fixes on the Google community blog. Some of them include disabling the app, uninstalling it, or restarting the phone.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)

The report has been updated to add a response from Google on 4 February.

Also read: Digital economy firms faced 270 cyberattacks on average in 2021, each ‘success’ cost $3.6 mn: WEF


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