Google Assistant, the search giant’s answer to Alexa that lives on Android smartphones, tablets, and Google Home speakers, will expand to more languages over the course of the year, to cover 95 percent of all eligible Android smartphones, Google announced this morning. It will also soon become multilingual – meaning users who speak more than one language will be able to talk to Assistant in all the languages they speak, as well.
The latter feature will be especially helpful for those who speak their native language in their home, but may speak a different language with local friends or at work, for example.
Though Google Assistant is capable of understanding different languages, there wasn’t a way to easily switch between them before – you’d have to configure your language selection in the app’s settings. This feature will make talking to the assistant more natural.
Multilingual support will first be available in English, French and German when it rolls out later this year, but more languages will be added in time, the company says.
Google Assistant’s global footprint is also growing, the company says.
This year, the smart assistant will jump from being available in 8 languages to more than 30. Over the next few months, the Assistant will learn to speak Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai on Android phones and iPhones. By year-end, it’s expected to reach 95 percent of Android smartphones worldwide capable of running Google Assistant.
This will also give Google Assistant an advantage over rivals like Siri and Alexa, which have more limited language support. Amazon may have expanded Echo speakers to more markets around the world, but it hasn’t localized the device for those locations – Alexa only speaks English, German and Japanese. Meanwhile, one of Siri’s biggest strengths had been the fact that it could speak over 20 languages.
The added language support was one of several updates for Google Assistant announced this morning, including also an Assistant Mobile OEM program, to help mobile manufacturers more deeply integrate with Assistant, and the launch of Routines and location-based reminders, rolling out next week.