Google Assistant Sings a Reminder to Wear a Mask, Expanding Voice Assistant Hygiene Song Competition
“Voice assistant hygiene songs” is not a genre listed on Billboard, but a new ditty sung by Google Assistant is adding to the trend. When asked to sing a song, Google Assistant will now perform a using a riff on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, reminding people to wear masks in public.
The new song is slightly amusing in the same way high school talent show song parodies are humorous. Despite the obvious reasons for the song, the lyrics don’t mention COVID-19 at all. They do, however, tell you that the mask should cover both the nose and mouth to be effective. Google Assistant performs the new tune to “sing the mask song,” when asked if it wears a mask, or sometimes just when asked to sing a song. As reminders for wearing a mask go, a post-it on the door is probably more useful. It might be for families with young children as a tune to help them remember to wear a mask and the correct way to put it on. Still, any child young enough to find the song interesting is probably young enough that an adult should be supervising them closely in public anyway. On a device with a screen, the song’s lyrics appear with copious emojis to drive home the message, as can be seen here.
Voice assistants have been adding and updating features related to the COVID-19 pandemic since March. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant all have government agency-sourced tips and responses to questions about the virus and how to stay healthy. Both Google Assistant and Alexa initially removed every non-governmental voice app related to the coronavirus from their catalogs to combat misinformation and rumors about the virus, although The Mayo Clinic has since published a voice app on Alexa with its own guide to staying healthy right now
The new song isn’t Google Assistant’s first hygiene tune added to its repertoire this year. You can also listen to a rewritten, 40-second version Row, Row, Row Your Boat” called Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands, designed as a timer for precisely what the title says. That song also includes lyrics about how to wash your hands and how often you should do so, again clearly aimed at families with younger children. The song lasts 40 seconds because that was the World Health Organization’s guideline for how long hand-washing should take. Amazon’s Alexa decided to apply its musical talents to the CDC’s suggestion of at least 20 seconds instead, with a rival track that using an original tune. The inevitable rap battle will at least be a clean fight.