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Bilingual bots: Google Assistant understands two languages at once


  • Tech News
  • Saturday, 15 Sep 2018

Google plays to its strengths in the battle for the top of the home assistant market. Using AI, the Google Assistant has beaten Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri to become the first fully bilingual assistance software. — dpa

Google plays to its strengths in the battle for the top of the home assistant market. Using AI, the Google Assistant has beaten Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri to become the first fully bilingual assistance software. — dpa

Google's Assistant is now the first digital assistant on the market capable of understanding and responding to humans that switch between two languages.

Previously, the Google Assistant – as well as the competing programs from Amazon and Apple – had to be set to communicate in only a single, specific language.

Now any pair of the English, German, French, Italian and Spanish languages can be selected to be understood and responded to by the Google Assistant, the company announced at the recent IFA technology fair in Berlin.

This is only the beginning for Google, and the company wants to start letting users switch between three languages in the coming months.

While this will certainly be a benefit to bilingual households, the technology is still limited in certain areas, with English song titles, for example, sometimes causing the assistance program to struggle when operating in other languages.

With voice control becoming such a vital aspect of the current crop of networked devices, there is a bitter struggle between big tech firms to become the leader of the software assistance market.

According to figures from market research firm Canalys, devices connected with the Google Assistant are now leading the market, accounting for around one third of the sales of smart speakers.

Speakers with Amazon's Alexa on board are in second place, comprising a quarter of the market, while Apple's Siri has a lower share as it is only compatible with Apple products and, unlike Assistant or Alexa, does not work with devices made by other manufacturers.

Earlier this year, Google unveiled a voice-generating software called Duplex that is nearly indistinguishable from the human voice.

The technology – which is currently in the testing phase in the United States – will be connected to the Google Assistant to perform tasks on behalf of the user, such as booking appointments. – dpa
   

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