Why John Legend voicing the Google Assistant matters

Why John Legend voicing the Google Assistant matters

This week at Google I/O conference, Google detailed some of the new abilities coming to its digital assistant platform. "And the fact that we end up with female voices, or females portrayed in these various types of service roles, actually does reinforce the feminization of a certain labor force of servitude [like being a personal assistant or working a call center] that is often seen as less skilled, less valuable and that can be paid less".

John's voice will be the only famous one added to the Google devices - the other five, consisting of both male and female tones, are created to sound more natural, thanks to the use of WaveNet technology. As Pichai explained, Wavenet will extrapolate Legend's voice for specific questions and requests for use in Google Assistant. Google's AI was calm, composed, friendly, and eventually finished the task.

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In March, Google rolled out Routines, which allows a single phrase to initiate multiple commands.

WaveNet lets Google simulate entire vocabularies without needing so many actual human recordings.

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If you're like me you hate using the hotword "Ok, Google" or "Hey, Google" over and over again to interact with the Assistant or your smart speakers. The assistant will picture answering your questions. Described as a "visual-first" version of its Assistant, it's clear they want us to opt for this over the standard smart speaker.

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"Hey Google, order my usual from Starbucks." and the Assistant will fire up the Starbucks app, order your usual, then give you a confirmation and pickup time. Right now, it can control lights, thermostats, your refrigerator and a few other things. "Passion gets you a lot further", Legend said. All I really care about here is being able to say, "Ok Google, make my coffee in 10 minutes" to get my morning joe. As the Huffington Post recently noted, half a billion Apple devices have Siri on them; Amazon sold tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices during the 2017 holiday shopping spree, and Microsoft's Cortana has nearly 150 million active monthly users.

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