Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Tuesday during the company's annual I/O developer conference that it is adding six new voices for its virtual assistant, including that of R&B star John Legend. The voices will be available for phones, Google Home smart speakers, and other devices. Pichai told the audience this was possible due to a breakthrough six months ago from Google's DeepMind A.I. team in its WaveNet technology, which stiches together speech recordings by analyzing the underlying raw audio to create a realistic-sounding voice. A video ran on the conference stage showing Legend recording phrases that might be useful for Google Assistant in the company's studio. "Couscous: a type of North a type of North African semolina in granules made from crushed durum wheat," Legend says at one point, appearing to be reading the definition from the Google Dictionary.
John freaking Legend -- the honey-voiced man who is basically the dictionary definition of "dulcet tones" -- will be one of several new voice options on Google Assistant, the company announced Tuesday. SEE ALSO: Digital assistants just took a big step toward real'human' conversation Legend spent some time in the Google studio recording his voice, so he can be part of your home life. Honestly, it's just so generous of Chrissy Teigen to share. Sundar clarifies, his voice is coming later this year "in certain contexts" #GoogleIO pic.twitter.com/YPkmt9wRuw Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the hot collab as the cherry on top of his keynote at Google I/O, Google's developer conference.
Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant are all female. The topic has been much discussed and researched in recent years, with data offering as one explanation for the phenomenon that both men and women prefer the sound of female voices. "They're warmer and more relatable, and make people receptive to voice-activated technology," Fast Company explained in March. Many virtual assistant users (and critics) weren't satisfied--why is that we're so OK bossing around a female voice and not a male one? Writing for the Atlantic in 2016, Adrienne LaFrance said, "The simplest explanation is that people are conditioned to expect women, not men, to be in administrative roles--and that the makers of digital assistants are influenced by these social expectations."
Right off the bat Google Assistant is getting a voice overhaul thanks to its Wavenet platform, which will include six new voices joining the "male" and "female" voices that it currently has. The big story: Grammy Award winning artist John Legend's voice will join the lineup later this year as one of the six new voices. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Assistant won't be able to answer every question you could possible ask with Legend's voice, but for fans it'll be nice to hear him doing the basics like telling you the weather. Google Assistant is getting better, smarter, and soon it'll have the velvet voice of a legend named Legend, or any of the five other currently unknown voices joining the new lineup. Read next: Google Assistant puts an end to impolite queries with'Pretty Please' feature
Dish Network customers won't have to change the channel from their remote controls anymore. Now, they can just ask Google. Dish Network announced on Monday that all generations of its Hopper DVR set-top boxes will be compatible with Google Assistant, allowing customers to control the channel with their voice. The feature is compatible with Google Home speakers and the Google Assistant app on iOS and Android. The update marks a major shift for Dish Network, who will now give voice control options to the "tens of millions" of people who have bought a Google Home smart speaker.