Google Assistant is now bilingual!

Are you one of those people who pride themselves on being able to converse in more than one language fluently? Well, you got competition. And that too from none other than Google Assistant! Yes, believe it or not, Google Assistant has turned bilingual. Google, known for bringing innovation into its products, has done it again.

It was first announced by Google in February this year that the Google Assistant would support voice commands in multiple languages without having to manually change the settings. This promised feature is now a reality. This means that Google Assistant can understand and speak in at least two languages interchangeably. The Assitant will respond in the language used for the command.

The move recognizes the growing need for a device that supports multilingual households. At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018, Google revealed that this move is in sync with the company’s efforts to make the assistant become a more international service.

How does Google Assistant manage it?

Making the Assistant bilingual is anything but an easy task. When you normally use Google Assistant, it uses Speech Recognition in one language, creates the transcription for the command and takes action accordingly. The language you want to use is already set in the settings. As opposed to this, for the new bilingual feature, Google has come up with a new language identification model called LangID. This model is especially used in order to recognize more than one language.

Image courtesy: Google

LangID starts running as soon as the Assistant detects speech. At the same time, the speech recognition also starts running. This is a clever move from Google so that there is no delay in the response time. Since both Language recognition and Speech recognition work at the same time, there is no perceptible delay in actioning a command even in the bilingual mode. After both recognition systems have done their job, the voice command is transcribed in the two languages which are pre-set in the software. There is a complex ranking algorithm at work that decides the language being used. Thus, the system comes up with the best transcription of the command. This command is then actioned by the Assistant.

An interesting point to note is that LangID does not just rely on the vocabulary used in order to identify the language. Rather, it also takes into account the frequency of the particular language used, the type of the device being used with that language, etc. to get the best transcription of the voice command. As we said, it is a pretty complex algorithm but seems like Google has been able to successfully implement it.

Which Languages are supported by Google Assistant?

Currently, Google Assistant can be set up to understand any two of the below languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Italian

According to Manuel Bronstein, Vice President of Product, Google plans on adding more languages to the list in the coming months. If reports are to be believed, it will support thirty languages by the end of this year. Also, Google intends to develop algorithms to make the Assistant not just bilingual, but also multilingual in future. As it is, the software understands about fifteen languages so far. Work is in progress to enable the Assistant to understand more than one language without having to change the settings.

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