Google is adding multilingual support to Google Assistant, enabling users to jump between two languages when communicating with the voice-activated assistant. Google boasts the capability is a "first-of-its-kind" feature, which is the culmination of a multi-year effort.
To turn on this feature, users have to select two of the supported languages -- English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese. From then on, Google Assistant will respond to whichever language it hears. Previously, users had to choose a single language setting. The feature is well-suited for the growing number of bilingual households, Google says.
In a separate blog post, Google outlines the technical challenges involved in building this feature, including creating spoken language identification (LangID) technology using deep neural networks so that the Assistant could identify multiple languages.
Google announced the new feature during IFA 2018, the major tech show in Berlin. It also announced that it's bringing Google Assistant to a wide range of speakers, displays and home devices in Europe.
As Google Assistant competes against voice-enabled assistants from Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, the Mountain View company has pushed to expand sales of the Google Home smart speaker while partnering with device makers that can integrate Assistant into their products. At the Google I/O conference this year, Google noted that Google Assistant will be available in 30 languages and 80 countries by the end of the year.
For its push into Europe, Google announced Thursday that the Google Home Max is now available in Germany, the UK and France. Meanwhile, the Assistant will be built into new voice-activated speakers including the Bang & Olufsen's Beosound 1 and Beosound 2, Blaupunkt's PVA 100 and Harman Kardon's HK Citation series.
In the coming months, the Assistant will work with more home devices in Europe, including the Homematic IP Radiator Thermostate, Netatmo's Smart Indoor and Outdoor Security Cameras, Nanoleaf Light Panels and Electrolux's smart ovens.