Google is bringing out a handful of new updates that will allow Assistant to pronounce difficult names better and understand the context of conversations you share with them. To get started, you will soon have the opportunity to teach him how to pronounce the names of your contacts, just as you can already coach him on how to pronounce your own name correctly. According to Google, “Assistant will listen to your pronunciation and remember it”, without the recording being kept by the company.
Google says the feature will be available in English first, although it “hopes” to make it available in other languages as well. Once you’ve received the new update on your phone, tap the “Save your own” option under the contact field in the Assistant settings menu to get started.
I can only speak for myself, but I find that I end up using the Assistant primarily for setting the timers and Google is improving as well. The company claims to have completely reconstructed the natural language understanding models of AI to better understand the context. With the inclusion of Google’s BERT technology, it can now process words holistically instead of one by one. With these additions, Google claims that “the Assistant can now respond with almost 100% accuracy to alarms and timer tasks.” In practice, that means you can do something like change your mind in the middle of one sentence and Assistant will follow your train of thought. If you live in the US, you can try this feature out today on an Assistant-enabled smart speaker, with availability on phones and smart screens to follow “soon.”
Finally, Google uses the same BERT technology to further improve the contextual knowledge of the Assistant. So let’s say you start a conversation about Miami and end up asking for recommendations for the best beaches, this will know you mean Miami Beaches. Likewise, it can also understand issues related to things you watch on your phone or smart screen. All of these improvements should make conversations with the Assistant more natural and useful.
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