Ahead of MWC, Google laid out its expansion plans for its Google Assistant software, the search engine giant’s smart assistant that lives on Android smartphones, tablets and Google Home speakers. The company officially announced that Google Assistant is going global this year with some important language upgrades. By the end of 2018, Google says the Assistant will be able to understand and speak 30 languages, enough to cover 95% of Android users. The Assistant launched widely this time last year was initially available in English only. It currently works in eight languages including French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese which means another 22 or so over the year. Among the new languages will be Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai with more coming over time.
“In the next few months, we’ll bring the Assistant to Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish and Thai on Android phones and iPhones, and we’ll add more languages on more devices throughout the year,” Nick Fox, product lead for Assistant, said.
In addition, Nick said the Google Assistant would soon become multilingual. This means users will be able to speak to it in more than one language without altering a setting every time they want to switch. Previously, you had to completely change Android language settings in order for the assistant to decipher you.
The multilingual feature will be first available in English, French, and German but with support to more languages coming “over time.”
The move aims to help Google ramp up their Assistant and compete with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and others.
Moreover, Google plans to work with phone makers to embed the Assistant into the handsets of other manufacturers. The Assistant Mobile OEM program had been in the works since MWC last year, and we expect to see integrations with LG, Sony and Xiaomi soon.
Interestingly Google also announced a similar program for carriers. This means in the future you’ll just ask the Assistant about your plan, add new services (like international data roaming) through its conversational interface, and even get support from your carrier. Google revealed the carriers like Sprint, Koodo, Telus, and Vodafone are already developing such integrations, and more partners will be announced soon.