Google Assistant was only more useful for multilingual families. Starting today, you can set up two languages in the Google Home app and assistant on your phone and Google Home would like to respond to your commands in both English and Spanish.
Today's announcement does not come as a surprise, given Google announced at its I / O Developer Conference earlier this year that it was working on this feature. It's nice to see that this year Google rolls out its I / O announcements well before next year's event. It has not always been the case before.
Currently, the assistant is bilingual only and still has a few languages to learn. However, at the moment you can set up any language pairs that include English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. Several couples will be in the future, and Google also says that it is also working on trilingual support.
Google tells me that this feature will work with all assistant surfaces that support the languages you've selected. It's basically all phones and smart speakers with the assistant, but not the new smart screens, as they only support English right now.
Although this may sound like a simple feature to implement, Google remarks this was a perennial effort. To build a system like this, you must be able to identify multiple languages, understand them and then make sure you present the right experience for the user. And you must do all this within seconds.
Google says that the language identification model (LangID) can now distinguish between 2000 language pairs. With that in place, the company's researchers had to build a system that could beat spoken queries to real results in all supported languages. "When the user stops talking, the model has not only decided which language was spoken, but also what was said," writes Google's VP Johan Schalkwyk and Google Speech Engineer Lopez Moreno in today's announcement. "Of course, this process requires a sophisticated architecture that comes with increased process cost and the ability to introduce unnecessary latency."
If you are in Germany, France or the UK, you will now also be able to use bilingual assistant on a Google Home Max. The advanced version of the Google Home family is on sale in these countries today.
In addition, Google announced today that a number of new devices will soon support the assistant, including the tado thermostats, a host of new security and smart home buttons (although not of course Amazon's own ring alarm), smart bulbs and appliances, including iRobot Roomba 980, 896 and 676 vacuum cleaners. Who wants to push a button on a vacuum, after all.