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Google Assistant is getting better at natural conversations and pronouncing names

By Nadeem Sarwar April 28, 2021, 8:05 pm
google assistant

Google has announced a host of improvements that are coming to its eponymous AI assistant. Starting with recognizing names and pronouncing them correctly, Google Assistant will let you teach it how the names saved in your contacts are pronounced so that it doesn’t falter the next time you tell it to call or text that person. This feature will definitely be a very convenient upgrade for the AI assistant’s abilities, as it often fails to pick up the names, especially if they’re not from an English-speaking culture.

However, Google says that whatever you teach the AI assistant about pronouncing names correctly and learning to recognize them when you utter those names, it will not be stored in a recorded form. In the early phases, this Google Assistant capability to learn the pronunciation from you will initially be limited to English, but will soon be expanded to more languages as well.


Additionally, Google is also employing a technology called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) that will boost its natural language skills and ability to more accurately understand nuanced voice commands with proper context.

For example, when you say a slightly corrected voice command such as “Hey Google, set a timer for 5 minutes, no wait 9 minutes,” Google Assistant will no longer pick the first part of the sentence to name the timer. In this case, the alarm won’t be called ‘5 minutes, no wait’ that will ring after 9 minutes. Instead. Google Assistant will now recognize that you made a mistake while saying the voice command, and it will process it accordingly.

Additionally, it will now be able to add some element of chronology if you’ve created multiple tasks without naming them. For example, if you set two timers one after another without naming the task, Google Assistant will queue them accordingly. Now, when you say ‘Hey Google, cancel the second timer,’ the digital assistant will automatically kill the second timer without asking for its name or simply failing to comprehend and execute.

Another upgrade coming to Google’s AI assistant is called Relative Time Reference. So, if you ask the digital assistant to set an alarm for 4pm, and then follow it up with a request to move it an hour ahead, the assistant will change the alarm timing to 5pm. Earlier, the follow-up request would result in the assistant setting up a new alarm an hour later.

google assistant context

Lastly, Google Assistant will now take into account your previous question and what is being displayed on the screen to more accurately answer your query. For example, if you ask about the temperature in New York, and then follow it up with a voice command such as ‘Hey Google, show me the ten tallest buildings’ without specifying which city or country, the Assistant will automatically deduce that you were talking about New York, based on the conversation history.


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