Google Assistant can now speak German and Japanese

JC Torres - Sep 18, 2019, 10:42 pm CDT
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Google Assistant can now speak German and Japanese

AI-powered voice assistants are quite useful, especially for hands-free use and control of smart assistant. The catch to all that is, because it’s voice-driven, it’s even more at the mercy of spoken language, which is admittedly harder to get right when it comes to speech recognition. Complicating matters is that the voices that give feedback might not be to everyone’s taste or language for that matter. That’s why Google is now rolling out nine new voices, seven of which are not even in English.

Even back in the days of Siri, voice assistants were criticized for sounding so artificial, even robotic. It has been a long time but voices have improved greatly over the past years, especially as artificial intelligence and machine learning become more advanced. And when it comes to those fields, Google is practically unmatched in the consumer tech industry.

In fact, Google has employed its DeepMind arm’s WaveNet for that exact purpose. It uses deep neural networks not to analyze user voice input but to generate audio waveforms, hence the name, that sound more realistic and more human. That is part of what makes Google’s AI-based services like Duplex so convincing and almost frightening in its accuracy.

WaveNet is also the technology behind the 11 English voices that have been available for Google Assistant. To diversify its selection, Google is adding secondary voices, not all of which are English. That new list includes German, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Italian, Korean, Japanese, English (UK), and English (India).

As always, the rollout will be staggered and may not even be available in all markets. Google is also particularly proud of how it displays these voice options in gender-neutral and almost random colors to prevent any inappropriate associations of voices.


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