Google Assistant expands with dialect upgrades

Science fiction meets science fact. Cinematic droid R2-D2 faces off with a Google Home Mini speaker and Google Assistant. Image: Digitized House Media.
Science fiction meets science fact. Cinematic droid R2-D2 faces off with a Google Home Mini speaker and Google Assistant. Image: Digitized House Media.

As technology progresses, so does the trek toward artificial intelligence (AI). One of the world’s most popular AI tools is Google Assistant, which is learning at a fast pace and constantly upgrading. While it understands speech and can respond accordingly, Google Assistant still only understands a small number of languages. However, the list of shortfalls around its AI prowess is becoming much shorter.

Google Assistant can now speak in three different Spanish dialects: España, México, and Estados Unidos, or EE.UU. The unveiling of the three new dialects suggests the Google Home speaker line may be arriving in Spain and Mexico soon, as Google’s projected map earlier this year hinted at. Google Assistant is expanding across the globe, and will soon have the capability to reach more people than other voice recognition assistants. 

Consistently evolving

The constant march forward by the Google AI behemoth is leaving competitors like Amazon Echo or Apple Siri far behind. While Amazon had a few years’ worth of a head start on Google’s devices, the latter’s reach is looking to be too vast. But with Google Assistant making new landfalls, you can bet Echo and other voice activation assistants will not be far behind.

A voice interface to the Google AI engine, the Google Assistant app runs on iOS and Android mobile devices and does not require a Google Home speaker in order to function. Image: Digitized House Media.
A voice interface to the Google AI engine, the Google Assistant app runs on iOS and Android mobile devices and does not require a Google Home speaker in order to function. Image: Digitized House Media.

Google Assistant was already multilingual enough to change languages with you between conversations, but having different dialects for a given language amounts to a new game. AI equipped with a familiar tone of voice adds an empathetic feeling reminiscent of talking to another human instead of an AI tool. Contrary to the predictions of popular science fiction literature, the advancements toward AI and similar technology have become less about giving a machine sentience and more about spoofing users into thinking they are conversing with a human.

The Turing Test, which is designed to decide whether a computer has become capable of demonstrating sufficiently intelligent behavior such that it may be indistinguishable from a human, is predicated on whether a person can discern the machine from a human. Now, Google Assistant is getting a backstory which will allow the program to appear vulnerable and needy, potentially changing the game of AI completely. Competitors, like Echo, will be striving to quickly catch up to the newer technology, which will go a long way toward making AI a fixture in virtually every home.

There are remaining pitfalls with Google’s voice recognition software, though. Since it predominately listens for keywords, it will inevitably misinterpret some user requests. Adding new languages means trying to work out those same kinks all over again. However, the addition of more dialects will potentially help Google understand more users than ever before and enable it to work more precisely the first time.

Spanning the globe

With Google’s Spanish language gaining new dialects, there’s a strong possibility other dialects or even more languages will also be coming soon. More available languages will mean a wider audience for Google products.

Google Assistant has become an integral part of smart home technology, which makes the dialect additions even more promising. Other competitors can control smart home accessories, but Google Assistant’s addition to dialects and languages may lead to a prevalence of smart homes around the globe, not just in technology-leading countries.

The potential for the Google juggernaut to lead a technology revolution in countries that are currently behind the curve is a huge prospect. While cost of these products can be an issue, breaking the language barrier is the first step in reaching other countries that can already afford AI technology.

For countries starting to get Google Assistant technology this year and beyond, there are already plenty of resources for learning to use Assistant, as well as troubleshooting and benefits. The more people who have access to the Google technology suite, the more the company will expand and update. Assistant will become an item beyond compare if competitors don’t keep up.

New dialects mean new horizons for Google and the Google Assistant ecosystem. The big company won’t be the only one benefiting. Now people will be able to converse with their technology in a familiar language, courtesy of tech forged by a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Perhaps politics plays a role in promoting a more universal use of technology, but those affected by the change will see nonetheless see positive outcomes.

Google’s voice recognition engine might need time before it’s perfected, though. You can always check on how it’s progressing by issuing a “Hey Google” command to your Google Home speaker or the Google Home app on a smartphone.

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Kayla Matthews
About Kayla Matthews 6 Articles
Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and productivity blogger. She is a senior writer for MakeUseOf and the owner and editor of her tech productivity blog, Productivity Bytes. You can read more by Kayla at Inc.com, VentureBeat, DMN, and more.