Google Assistant gets improved in the last couple of months. Just last month it got a new design update. And now gets the update to interpret conversations in 26 different languages trough your Google Home smart speaker or smart display.

Another Google translator

Google has had a job as a translator since 2006 with the launch of Google Translate. The same service made it possible to translate in ‘Conversation mode’ with the Google Translate app in 2010. And in 2017 Google presented the live interpreter functions of the Pixel Buds. The big difference is that now the translator is embedded in your Google Home speakers or Smart Display. Giving you and the person your talking to the same experience. Before, two people each needed the pixel buds or the translator app to understand each other. Now your smart speaker functions as a third party who really takes on the role of interpreter.

How does it work

Google demonstrated this function at CES 2019 with a Smart Display. The Verge even made a video about how it could work in a real-life setting. Check it out here:

Hey Google, help me speak Hindi

The way you activate the Google Assistant interpreter is to activate the speaker with Ok- or Hey Google wakeup phrase and ask it to function as an interpreter for a specific language. ‘Hey Google, help me speak Hindi‘ automatically sets the translator function to English – Hindi. But also works if you want to set up two different languages. ‘Hey Google, translate Polish to Dutch‘ works just as well. As of today the translator function should be available on your Google Home speaker or Smart Display.

Excuse my French

Using the translator with the Google Home speaker or Smart Display comes with a few downsides. First it takes the Assistant some time to process your sentence and looking up the translation. Resulting in some awkward silences in the conversation. When the translation arrives, the person you are conversing with sometimes feels the need to answer before the Assistant has uttered the full translation. And because of that, misses the sentence it has to translate for you. The second you already know. When using the Google Home in your preferred language, it still has some trouble exactly understanding what you said. When you get the speaker in interpreter mode, those misunderstandings always get translated. If you say: ‘I think you are swell’ Google Assistant could hear ‘I think your arm smell‘ and translates that to your new French friend. In that case it’s good to know that ‘Je suis désolé‘ means ‘I’m sorry’.

Original photo by Jason Rosewell


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