Google Assistant Adds 6 New Voices, Supports Smart Displays, Will Expand to 80 Countries

We’ve already seen announcements about Android P and Android Things 1.0 for Google I/O 2018, but the company also took the opportunity to provide an update to the new features coming to Google Assistant.

Some of the improvements are specifically related to the audio features (voice assistant):

  • Google Assistant is now naturally conversational so it can understand more complex requests such as asking the weather using expressions like “Will it be cats and dogs today?”.
  • 6 new voices are now available, and John Legend’s voice is coming later this year. More voices should be supported in the future, thanks to improvements in AI and WaveNet technology from DeepMind that eliminates the needs for recording hundreds of hours of audio in a recording studio, and enabled adding new voices in just a few weeks.
  • Continued Conversation – as its name implies – will allow Assitant and you to have a “natural conversation” without having to say “OK Google” for each request.
  • Multiple Actions will allow you to ask multiple things at once for example request the weather forecast in multiple cities, or a turn on one appliance, and turn off another one with a single sentence.
  • Pretty Please will be dedicated to polite conversation with children, and encourage them when they use “please”or other polite terms in a sentence.
  • Custom and scheduled Routines

Beside verbal conversion improvements, Google also improved Assistant’s visual experience with dedicated smart displays with you can control with your voice or taps on the touchscreen display,  a redesign of Assistant user interface on phones, and integration with Google Maps that is planned for this summer.

The assistant will also feature Google Duplex, which apparently will be able to make hotel/restaurant reservations, or schedule various appointments online or on the phone on your behalf, and once the task is completed, Duplex will add your appointment or reservation to Google Calendar. This might be challenging in case the staff on the other side asks for some details the assistant may not know… By the way, the Google Duplex link above have some demos of automated calls.

Appointment to Hairdresser with Google Duplex – Click to Enlarge

Ramping up support for voice assistants to many countries is tricky  due to the diversity of languages spoken around the world, and that’s why initially Google Assistant would only support (American) English, but recently more languages have been added, and the company plans to bring the Assistant to 80 countries by the end of the year. That will also include the launch of Google Home and Home Mini to 7 countries (Denmark, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden).

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