Google Assistant on Google Home is now able to support up to six user accounts and detect unique voice signatures, the company announced today.
This allows Google Home users to customize a number of features, from the answer to the question “What’s on my calendar?” to the “Tell me about my day?” feature that provides specific commute, weather, and news for each user. It also includes features such as nickname, work location, payment information, and linked accounts like Google Play, Spotify or Netflix.
Since its launch last fall, Google Assistant on Google Home has become able to answer questions, provide personal info (like calendar or flight information), and convey a unique personality. Google Home can also order items from more than 50 retailers across the United States by voice and set flight tracking alerts.
The news of Google Home being able to support multiple accounts should not come as a surprise to close followers of the intelligent assistant.
Initial hints at multi-user support emerged last month from Android application package code. And a few weeks back, Google Assistant users saw an unexpected card in the Discover tab of the Google Home app stating that the voice-powered intelligent assistant could support multiple users. The change was announced today in a blog post by product manager Yury Pinsky.
A source familiar with the matter told VentureBeat the card declaring “Multiple users now supported” was actually released early, as the result of a malfunction by the Google Home app. Now that the multi-user feature is available, you can add new users by tapping the “Multiple users now supported” card or by going to the Devices area of Google Home (in the top right-hand corner of the app or the sandwich menu in the top left-hand corner).
Once in the Devices area, choose to “Link Your Account.”
The assistant will then ask you to say the phrases “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” two times each. Those phrases are then analyzed by a neural network to “detect certain characteristics of a person’s voice,” according to the Pinsky blog post.
“From that point on, any time you say ‘Ok Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ to your Google Home, the neural network will compare the sound of your voice to its previous analysis so we can understand if it’s you speaking or not. This comparison takes place only on your device, in a matter of milliseconds,” according to the blog post.
A Google spokesperson said unique voice signatures will be tied to each individual Google Home and not used for other purposes. Companies like Mattersight are exploring ways to tie unique voice signatures to targeted advertising should assistants like Alexa and Google choose to open to advertising.
Ads on assistants has been a contentious topic as of late following Burger King and Beauty and the Beast advertisements involving Google Home. Unique voice signatures tied to each Google Home means if you have multiple Google Home smart speakers you will need to create unique voice signatures for each device.
Google declined to respond to questions about how the search and advertising giant may use personalized user signatures or how allowing multiple accounts may lead to increased usage in classrooms or the workplace. The company also declined to state whether multiple user accounts will finally give Google Assistant the ability to add calendar events.
The Trusted Home feature for Google Home was previously able to train Google Assistant to respond to the “OK Google” wake word for a primary user, and the assistant has always been able to chat with a group of users. But without unique voice control, Google Assistant was unable to identify specific users by the sound of their voice.
Amazon is also able to set up multiple user accounts and is working to bring the ability to identify unique voices to its intelligent assistant, Alexa, according to an anonymous source cited by The Information, in late February.
In addition to moving beyond the home, multiple user support could also make smart speakers like Google Home more valuable in the workplace.
A personalized experience that combines unique voice signature with multi-user support would also directly attribute questions and answers within the My Activity area of the app, which shares the recorded audio clip and transcript of every question or exchange a user has with Google Assistant.
The multi-user function for Google Home is only available in the United States at launch, though Google plans to expand to the United Kingdom in the near future.
Updated 11:45 a.m. with additional comment from Google on the use of unique voice signatures for purposes beyond Google Home device.