Google Assistant will soon learn how to pronounce the names of your contacts


Everyone’s got a story about a voice assistant (like Google Assistant) completely mishearing something they said to it, mostly when they’re trying to make a phone call. You know how it goes. “Hey Google, call Mom.” “Okay, calling: Debonairs.” It’s a relatively rare issue when it comes to simple names, but it far more commonly pops up with more unique monikers. To curb that communication struggle, Google’s rolling out an update that will let you teach specific pronunciation of your contacts’ names to its Assistant.

Google Assistant needs some assistance

Google explains how this works, briefly, in an announcement outlining this and several other improvements to Assistant. Google Assistant will listen to you pronouncing a contact’s name and memorise it. Then it will be better able to hear you say the same name later, and will also pronounce it back to you better too. Google specifies that Assistant won’t keep a recording of your voice when you teach it, just to assure users that nothing sketchy is going on. The feature is coming out in English first, but there are plans to add more language options in soon.

It’s a particularly useful update for a place like South Africa. Diversity being one of our core aspects, we’ve got a lot of names, and a lot of them can be a little hard for Google Assistant to recognise or pronounce. Now we can correct it.

The rest of the article details Assistant using Google’s BERT system to improve accuracy on user commands for things like alarms and timers, as well as making conversations between you and your voice assistant feel more natural. Specifically, Google outlines how Assistant will provide information more relevant to your entire thread of conversation. If you’ve been asking about London, for example, and ask “Where are the best museums?”, Assistant will pull up the best museums in London, not all over the world.



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