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Google Assistant has six new voices – and one is an absolute Legend

The Google Assistant has been boosted by the addition of six new voices, including the super star singer John Legend.

Kicking off the Google I/O keynote, Sundar Pichai revealed the new voices will be available on Android phones, the Google Home range and other devices with the Google Assistant.

The default male and female voices – which we’ve just learned were nicknamed “Holly” – will remain, but six new voices can be chosen from today.

Google says Assistant will, with a little training, assign different voices for different members of the household too. One for the adults and one for the kids, perhaps?

“You can find me on all kinds of devices — phones, Google Homes, and if I’m lucky in your heart,” Legend said in a video played during the presentation. He’ll also sing to you in certain circumstances, apparently.

So did John Legend go into an studio with Google and record every word in the English language? No.

Google says it used the technology called WaveNet it announced 18 months ago. This can be used to create a full vocabulary from less spoken words, which opens the door to more celebrities coming to the Assistant in the near future.

“Wavenet models underlying raw audio to create a more natural voice, its closer to how humans speak. The pitch, the pace, even all the pauses that convey meaning — you want to get all that right,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

Natural dialogue

The changes are part of efforts to improve the Assistant’s natural speech abilities. Google says the AI’s dialect is now “closer to how humans speak.” Thanks to some natural pauses and other improvements, Google says it is enabling a “more natural dialogue” with Assistant.

Related: Google Home Mini review

Google is also adding a new feature called Continued Conversation, which will enable users to have a “natural back and forth conversation,” rather than having to say “Hey Google” every single time and beginning a new request.

So, in the example used during the keynote, you could ask “Hey Google, did the Warriors win?”

And then follow Assistant’s response with “When’s their next game?” From there you could ask Assistant to set a reminder.

This understanding of context in follow-up questions will make it far easier for users to interact with the Assistant. Alexa got the feature a few weeks back, so Google is merely catching up here.

Finally, Google announced the Assistant can now handle threaded requests;.

For example, when asking “who was the Governor of California when Kevin Durant was drafted and what team drafted him?”, Google will answer “Arnold Schwarzenegger Wass the governor in 2007. Kevin Durant was drafted by the Seattle Super Sonics.”

Say Please

Finally, Google is also ensuring children retain their manners when talking to the Assistant with the new “Pretty Please” feature, which will roll out next year.

Amid concern kids could learn to be bossy by making demands of AI, this will ensure kids still have to ask nicely and say please when talking to their Google Home

Will you be picking John Legend to voice your Google Home? Or does this feel a bit gimmicky? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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