Currently, the Google Assistant supports more than 10 different languages (along with a number of regional variations), with Google hoping to bring that number to 30 before the end of the year. Unfortunately, up until now, you’ve only been able to use those languages one at a time — a hassle for anyone in a household of multiple languages.
Thankfully, all that is about to change, because starting today, the Google Assistant has become bilingual.
Off the bat, Google Assistant will support any pair of languages out of English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese, with Google promising support for even more languages in the coming months. This means that users will be able to switch languages between queries without needing to dive into the Assistant’s setting every time.
For anyone who has lived in a multilingual household, this is big. People, especially children, tend to shift from one language to another, sometimes without even realising they are doing it. According to a Google spokesperson, you can even make a command in one language, then follow up in another, just so long as you say “Hey, Google” in between.
For me though, what would make this tool even better is being able to switch between languages seamlessly on the fly. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I have to admit that my Mandarin is a little spotty, and being able to fill in words in English would make it much easier to practice speaking Chinese.
However, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) is currently not one of the Assistant’s supported languages, so that’ll have to come first.
The end goal for Google is that the Assistant will be truly multilingual and able to handle spoken requests in any language without additional help. However, as Google’s engineers discovered and describe in more detail in a new AI blog post, getting a computer to identify multiple spoken languages is much more difficult than doing the same with written text.
But for now, going bilingual seems like a good start.