Now your Google Home wants to learn how to say your name

Now your Google Home wants to learn how to say your name

05/01/2021

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If you’re invested in Google Home kit – with the likes of Google Nest smart displays, SONOS speakers, and more – there are plenty of brilliant features to sink your teeth into. The hands-free Google Assistant can check the latest weather forecast, opening times for nearby shops, traffic conditions, and answer any burning general knowledge questions you’ve got. But one thing this super-smart AI couldn’t do was learn to pronounce your name.

While it’s been possible to teach the Google Assistant – the chatty AI that powers the Google Nest speakers, Android smartphones, Google Chromecast, and more – what your name is, if the virtual assistant wasn’t able to pronounce it, you’d be stacked with its garbled pronunciation for life. Honestly, that’s almost worse than Google Assistant not knowing your name!

But that’s changing.

Google is slowly rolling out a new feature that will allow you to teach the AI helper how to pronounce difficult names. This applies to your name, anyone else living in the same Google Home household, as well as any contacts. That should help if you want to use the Google Assistant to add an appointment on your calendar when meeting someone with an unusual name or launch a call to them.

All you’ll need to do is repeat the name out-loud and Google Assistant will listen and remember the way you’ve pronounced it.

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The next time you issue a voice command with the same name, Google will be able to recognise the pronunciation and repeat it back to you correctly when the name comes up again. Unfortunately, this only works for those who have their Google Assistant set to English for now.

However, Google says it hopes to add support for more languages soon.

The pronunciation tweak arrives alongside another usual update. Google is trying to improve the Google Assistant so that it reacts more naturally during conversations. For example, if you stumble or correct yourself during a sentence, it will now know to ignore part of the request. For example, if you say “Hey Google, set an alarm for 7 – oh no, erm – 6am tomorrow morning,” it will dispose of the first part before the correction.

Google says these improvements will only work with timers and alarms to start with, but it’s a promising sign of things to come.

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