Today Google announced a slew of updates for Google Assistant with upgraded AI that improves conversations and better understands context and pronunciation. You’ll even be able to teach Google Assistant to better enunciate and recognize names in your contacts.
With each update, the Assistant learns new tricks, and while it sounds small, this newest release fixes a few annoying problems.
For starters, Assistant’s natural language understanding (NLU) models have been “fully rebuilt” to understand the context with more accuracy and “what you’re trying to do with a command.” So much, in fact, that when you make mistakes mid-sentence or decide to change your command, it’ll catch the mistake and still get things right. When you say something like “Hey Google, set a timer for 10—no wait, 5 minutes,” it understands you made a mistake and will set the correct 5-minute timer. Previously, the Assistant would spit out an oddly named timer and got the time wrong.
Here are a few examples of contextual situations with timers or alarms that will greatly improve.
It’s worth noting that these improvements to alarms and timers are available starting today on Google Assistant smart speakers but will come to more devices like phones and Nest Hubs at a later date.
Then, the Assistant is getting smarter with understanding unique names. Previously, you could teach it your name, but now that option is extending to other contacts on your phone. In the past, if you asked your Google Assistant to call or text someone with a unique name, or an uncommon spelling, there’s a good chance it failed completely. Now it will find the correct name, hopefully.
This new feature is gradually rolling out today for English-speaking users and will extend to more in the future. Once it does, go to Assistant settings > You > Your people and select a contact to teach the Google Assistant. You can read it aloud, and the voice model will learn the proper pronunciation, all without having to save or store the audio. Then, the next time you try to text that person with voice commands, it should work as expected.
Google’s state-of-the-art voice machine learning system will also see upgrades to conversations, which will feel more natural, especially with back-and-forth conversations.