Google Assistant can now do British and Australian accents in the US

Even the old smart assistant needs a fresh coat of paint from time to time. For those looking to switch things up a touch, Google announced today that Assistant is now capable of speaking in a couple of additional accents for U.S.-based users.

Head to the Settings tab on a compatible handset and you can swap the standard American for an Australian or British accent — or, rather “Sydney Harbour Blue” and “British Racing Green.”

Google’s blog post spells out the new feature, along with a few obligatory references to fish and chip shops and the like. No reason’s given why the feature has arrived on American shores, beyond the fact that it would be nice to hear the exchange rate for a pound delivered in a more appropriate accent.

These voices are built using DeepMind’s speech synthesis model WaveNet,” says Google, “which uses deep neural networks to generate raw audio waveforms resulting in more realistic and natural sounding Assistant voices.”

Perhaps it will be a comfort to ex-pats or just those who find the standard U.S. accent generally grating. Look, I get it. I’ve talked this way my whole life. These folks were certainly annoyed when their devices inexplicably switched over to American. The voices are the same as those found in their native areas, albeit localized for the U.S. market, according to Google. 

Interestingly, the feature arrives just as Bixby has learned to understand a British accent, so the two smart assistants can have a nice chat.