No need to fiddle with with the settings: Google‘s smart assistant and Home speaker are now bilingual, allowing users to issue commands in two different languages interchangeably. Previously, users would have to manually switch back and forth between individual languages.
It’s a thorny artificial intelligence problem that requires the Assistant to run multiple processes in parallel: It must identify which language a user is speaking while simultaneously parsing their command. (Learn more about how Google made it work here.) Although different smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can all be set up to understand and speak a wide range of different languages, Google is the first to support multiple languages at once.
This new function may also be a welcome salve for users who’ve been frustrated by their smart assistant’s struggle to understand an accent. People who speak Spanish as a first language, for example, are understood 6 percent less frequently by smart speakers than West Coast English speakers, according to a Washington Post investigation earlier this year. Letting users volley between languages may help thwart misunderstandings.
At roll out, users can set their Assistant to understand any pair of languages within English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese and Google says it will be adding more languages in the coming months. It also says that it is aiming to make Assistant trilingual in the future.