Our initial tests reveal that Google understands dialects both from Northern and Southern Italy.
Android headlines reports that Google “recently announced its collaboration with native speakers in the country, where Google collected numerous samples of Italian speech as part of the process of incorporating support for the Italian language to Google Assistant.”
Google Assistant Italy Expands Global Footprint
Google Assistant was in no countries when it launched one year ago. Google had voice search, but Assistant didn’t exist as a consumer product. It was only about nine months ago that Google Assistant first arrived in English on Android phones beyond the Pixel. In a conversation with Google Assistant group product manager Brad Abrams yesterday, he suggested that geographic expansion might be the biggest accomplishment of the team so far.
It’s actually really challenging to roll out in the different languages. When you think about what has to come together in terms of the speech recognition that has to be there, the speech synthesis has to be there, the knowledge graph understanding of large portions of the internet in that language. So, all of that has to come together. I think we are in a really fortunate place because we’ve had Google search in all of those languages for so long that it [has] given us an opportunity to build up the technology. Really, we are not building wholesale new technology as we roll out the Assistant, we are just leveraging this long history we have with search…Even a lot of the NLU, we built a lot of this technology because we have to understand a user’s query to be able to give them good answers.
Mr. Abrams also suggested that more languages will be rolling out on a regular basis in the coming months. Google is clearly looking for Google Assistant to serve a global audience in their native languages, much like Android, and Italian is the most recent on the list.
Going Beyond the I/O List
Another notable aspect of the roll-out in Italy is that Italian was not on the list of languages committed for release in 2017 during the Google I/O developer conference. This suggests that Google may be ahead of plan in rolling out new language support. Recent announcements by the company’s conversational application development tool Dialogflow offers some insight into where Google is headed. Dialogflow just last week announced support for 15 root languages. This feature will help developers build Google Assistant apps in one language and port them to other languages. Italian was on that list. Others on the list that have not yet launched include Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. This is not nearly every language, but it covers a substantial portion of the global population.
The next obvious question is when Italians will be able to purchase a Google Home and enjoy interacting with third-party Google Assistant apps. Let us know when you see those developments transpire.