Friday, 31 August 2018 03:00

VIDEO: Google's Assistant goes bilingual, becoming a cunning linguist

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Want to talk to Google Assistant in more than one language? Now you can say "hola, hallo, ciao, salut, and こんにちは to your bilingual Google Assistant", with "routines" now possible, too.

Google's vice-presiident of Product, Google Assistant, is Manuel Bronstein, and he has posted a very interesting blog post (which we'll link to later today).

He tells us that your Google Assistant "now understands and speaks more than one language at a time and is becoming more useful with custom and scheduled routines".

"With the Google Assistant, it’s easy to get stuff done through a simple conversation – whether you’re looking for a delicious pumpkin soup recipe, setting a reminder to take the laundry off the line, or playing your favourite tunes."

"And starting today, the Assistant will become more helpful with two new capabilities: we’re adding multilingual support, so that the Assistant will be able to understand and speak more than one language at a time. Additionally, you can now set custom and scheduled routines on smartphones and speakers, making it easier to get things done quickly with your Assistant."

Talk to the Google Assistant in multiple languages

Bronstein tells us that "family members in bilingual homes often switch back and forth between languages, and now the Assistant can keep up".

"With our advancement in speech recognition, you can now speak two languages interchangeably with the Assistant on smart speakers and phones and the Assistant will respond in kind.

"This is a first-of-its-kind feature only available on the Assistant and is part of our multi-year effort to make your conversations with the Assistant more natural."

The explanation continues: "So if you speak German at home, you can ask, 'Hey Google, wie ist das Wetter heute?.'

"And if you’re at a house party with friends, you can switch to English and say 'Hey Google, play my BBQ playlist.'

"Currently, the Assistant can understand any pair of languages within English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. We’ll be expanding to more languages in the coming months."

You can see a video showcasing multilingual update here and go ogle it embedded immediately below:

But what, there's more – now you can "get help with your routines".

Bronstein continues: "Your Assistant will now be able to help you manage your daily routines and get multiple things done with a single command.

"We’ve put together six Routines that help with your morning, commutes to and from work, and evening at home. For example, say 'Hey Google, I’m home' and the Assistant on your Google Home or phone can turn on the lights, share any home reminders, play your favourite music and more, all with just four words."

My observation here is that this sounds similar to Apple's Siri Shortcuts, which hasn't gone live to the public at large yet as iOS users await iOS 12, but Google bringing it to Android, Google Home and Google Assistant users is a great thing and will clearly be used by people on both platforms.

Thankfully, there's still more, with Bronstein adding: "We’re also rolling out Custom Routines, which allow you to create your own Routine with any of the Google Assistant’s one million Actions, and start your routine with a phrase that feels best for you.

"For example, you can create a Custom Routine for family dinner, and kick it off by saying 'Hey Google, dinner's ready' and the Assistant can turn on your favourite music, turn off the TV, and broadcast 'dinner time!' to everyone in the house.

"And on Google Home devices, you can now schedule Custom Routines for a specific day or time through the settings of your Google Assistant.

"So if you’re keen to get back into a regular exercise routine, you can set up your workout routine to automatically kick off several times per week."

Bronstein concludes: "We hope that these new things the Assistant can do will make it even easier for you to get things done – even in multiple languages".

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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