Google Assistant is quickly taking over our homes as a smart, reliable assistant. It is a part of the Google Smart Home Offerings and provides you with so much that you can do in Google Assistant. This includes a lot of customization to tune GA to your liking.
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So if you’re continually searching for ways to extend the functionalities, we’ll explain everything you need to know about changing Google Assistant’s pre-defined settings.
What Is Google Assistant?
Google Assistant is a voice assistant that enables you to control your phone and other connected devices with voice commands. It was introduced as part of the Google Now project. Besides using it for triggering apps and commanding physically connected devices, Google Assistant enables you to search the web with voice, make ticket reservations, and even play games.
It is shipped with all Android devices and was lately made available on the iOS platform. To start using it on your phone, you need to activate it. You can do this by following the steps below:
- Arrange a quiet room where there’s minimal noise. This helps set up the assistant faster.
- Unlock your screen and long-press the home button.
- When you see the notification “Listening…”, say the phrase “OK, Google.”
- This should set up the Google Voice Assistant on your phone.
Now it’s all set to answer a mix of basic and advanced questions. You can command:
- What is the weather of Somerset today?
- How far is Birmingham from London?
- Call Julia.
- Find a cake shop near me.
- Would you go on a date with me? (just for fun)
Google Assistant is powered by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms. This allows the software to learn and adapt. So the more you use it, the better it gets at recognizing your commands and speech pattern.
Who Is The Voice Of Google Assistant?
When you start using Google Assistant more, you’ll start asking yourself who voiced the software. Is the voice of a person or computer-generated? Well, Google doesn’t do a good job when it comes to disclosing who voiced the Google Assistant. They defend this by stating that the company doesn’t want you to associate the voice with a person, but with the company.
In a blog post, Jason Toff, who was part of the Google Voice team, confirmed that the default voice you hear on Google Assistant is of Kiki Bissell. She is not a professional voice over artist, but a regular Google employee. But there’s no confirmation made by Google regarding this.
The voice of GA is prepared by stitching and synthesizing recordings of a person so as to make it sound robotic. After all, GA is a machine. They record specific words and phrases, and then the engineers program the software to generate other sounds on its own.
From 2019 onwards (after announcing it at the 2018 Google I/O event), Google has been introducing celebrity voice to its Google Assistant software. So the voices you hear will be that of a celebrity.
In April of 2019, John Legend debuted for celebrity voice for Google Assistant. He was the first and one of the six celebs who were chosen to lend their voices to GA. In October of 2019, it was Issa Rae who made her appearance next. But the celeb voices don’t remain forever and disappear after some time.
How To Change Google’s Assistant’s Wake Word
If you’ve tried Google Assistant, then it probably responds to only two phrases, “OK Google” and “Hey Google.” Initially, it was programmed to respond only to “OK Google.” Following the updates made in 2017, now GA also responds to a lesser-known wake word “Hey Boo Boo” besides “Hey Google.”
There are many reasons as to why Google decided to choose only these words. Primarily because it was gender-neutral. Unlike Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s GA is considered neutral. Secondly, it helps Google reinforce its brand whenever in use.
But can you change these wake words? Unfortunately, at the time, you cannot. There’s no official way to change this wake word to something else without jailbreaking your phone, which is highly discouraged. On the brighter note, Google has hinted that they’ll be rolling out some customization features when it comes to changing wake words.
The best you can do is change sensitivity.
At times, Google fails to recognize wake words. Even something as concrete as “OK Google.” This might be because the speaker carries a heavy accent, or there’s too much background noise. So, the solution offered by Google is to make some sensitivity changes.
There’s a slider sensitivity feature you can use within the Google Home app. Open the app and navigate into settings. Select “Hey Google sensitivity.”
The slider to the higher side means Google Assistant will ignore every voice in the background and pick up yours wherever possible. The other side means it’s going to be less sensitive to your commands.
How To Change Google Assistant’s Name
When you talk to Google Assistant, it talks back to you. To make the conversation realistic, it refers to you with your name, or nickname precisely. If you don’t like the way GA is talking to you by default, then you can change your nickname. To do this, follow the below process:
- Long press the home button and say, “OK, Google.”
- From the bottom right-hand corner, select the Explore icon.
- Select You>Basic Info>Nickname. Now tap on Edit.
- You can either spell it out by typing or record your own. For example, Jake can be typed as “Jayke.” What you type is how GA will spell it.
- Tap on the play and then OK if you’re satisfied with it.
How to Change Google Assistant’s Voice
It understandably can get pretty boring hearing the same voice again and again. Who doesn’t like to meet and talk to new people? So why your Google Assistant should remain the same? You can make some changes to the voice and play around with it. This will make your Google Assistant sound different and unique from others.
When the Google Assistant was being offered at first, Google only shipped one voice with it. Then a few months down the road, it expanded to two voices. Since then, we have at least 20 voices at our disposal. This means you can use a different voice for each day for at least 20 days and then again mix things around.
The interface, which was way complicated a few years backs with a separate one for Google Assistant and Google Home, has been redesigned. Now the both have been unified — the change in voice from Google Home speaker will reflect on the phones as well.
To change the voice, you need to:
- Open the Google Home app on your smartphone.
- Open Settings from the home menu.
- Scroll to the bottom where it says “More Settings”
- Select the “Assistant” tab and then tap on “Assistant Voice.”
- You’ll see a list of colored circles. Each of these circles represents a different voice.
- Tap on the circles to hear a preview.
- To select one, tap on the back arrow (<), and the changes will get applied instantly.
This also applies to the settings on your phone. So the next time you say “OK Google” on your smartphone, the voice you have chosen previously will talk to you.
Google says their personal voice assistant is gender-neutral. By default, Google Assistant is set to a female voice. The above method can be used to change it to a male voice. What’s even better is you can select a deep or soft voice, there is a range of Google Assistant voices you can select using the process discussed above. But take note, only two of them are of an original male and female. The rest are computer-generated.
To change Gender, you need to navigate into “More Settings.” Then:
- Tap on the “Preferences” button and then “Assistant Voice.”
- You’ll see the options “Voice I” and “Voice II.” Select Voice II for males.
As already mentioned, Google is featuring celebrity voices for its Google Assistant platform. Earlier, they starred John Legend, and very recently, Issa Rae. To get these celebs’ voice to talk to you, navigate into the Assistant Voice settings using the above method.
You’ll see all the celebrity voices mentioned in here. This is written as “John Legend” and “Issa Rae” as usual. Tap on the option to set as default. Please note that these are made available for a limited time frame. So once they’re deleted from the options, the voice will reset to default.
How to Change Google Assistant’s Accent
You can change the voice of your Google Assistant. But what about the accent? Are you confined to the general American accent? Or can you switch to classic British? Well, the good news is you can. And the bad news is there are limitations.
Changing the accent is part of changing the voice in GA. As mentioned earlier, there are 20 or so colored circles you get to choose from. Some of them are Red, Cyan, Green, Orange, Amber, Blue, Purple, Pink, British Racing Green.
As the last option might suggest, it offers a British accent. Similarly, you’ll find that the Australian accent is called Sydney Harbour Blue or only Blue. So you need to satisfy your accent needs within these options offered.
The process of changing Google Assistant’s voice remains the same as changing voice. Go into Settings, navigate into more settings, click on Assistant, then Assistance voice, and select the colored circles. As the user base for Google Assistant grows, we can expect more accents from around the world to get added to the roster.
How to Change Google Assistant’s Language
At times, you might even get bored with the language of the Google Assistant, which by default is set to English. This is true if you’re multilingual or learning a new language. Talking to a foreign speaker is the fastest way to learn a foreign language. So can your Google Assistant aid you in this? Yes. Google Assistant can speak in a few foreign languages. This is thanks to its deep learning technology that powers Google’s translate service.
Changing Google Assistant Language on your device is really straightforward to do. The steps involved are:
- Launch the Google Home app
- From the main Settings menu, open More Settings
- From there, select Devices
- Now select Assistant Languages from the menu. This will show all the available languages available in your region. Select the one you wish, and it’ll be applied immediately.
Please note that this is not a device-level but a system-level change. Applying the changes will simultaneously affect all the devices connected to your account.
At the time of writing, GA offers more than 30 languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, Korean, Japanese, Dutch, German, among others.
What Cool Things Can Google Assistant Do?
Google Assistant is not just meant to search the web or control home devices. There are so many cool things, both productive and fun activities you can do.
This ranges from asking silly questions like:
- Is my coffee hot or cold?
- Can I fly in dreams?
- Do owls walk at night?
To some advanced questions, like:
- Where did George Washington complete his education?
- What are black holes?
- Albert Einstein’s brain analysis report.
Google indexes result in these queries and serve them up for you.
You can further change:
- How Google Assistant behaves
You can change the way Google finds information and serves up to you. You can even teach it to look out for offensive words and reply accordingly. So, you can personalize the Google Assistant to be your assistant.
- The News Source
You can change which type of news is fed to you. So in the morning, you can start with scores of your favorite football team or news of your favorite celebrity. You can specify your preferred news sources, and GA will comply accordingly.
- How Calls are received
Google Assistant can screen for spam and robocalls. So before you take on a call, you can ask GA to screen the incoming call and transfer only if it is credible.
- How you set Reminders
If your GA has access to Keep, Calendar, and Gmail, and potentially other apps, you can change the way you set reminders.
Which Devices Support Google Assistant?
Google Assistant was previously launched only for Pixel Smartphones and Google Home. Now, this support feature has been expanded to include rival companies like Apple. You can find GA on every Android-powered device as well as on Android TV, Nvidia Shield, and Wear OS devices. If your car supports Android Auto, expect GA to be available.
Being native to the Google Home smart speaker system, you can also use it with other speakers from Sonos, LG, and Panasonic.
When it comes to smart homes, you can integrate Google Assistant with Nest, Ikea, and Phillips Hue product lines. The list just gets bigger and bigger.
Google Assistant vs. Alexa vs. Siri
When it comes to smart voice assistants, Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are the heavyweights. But when it comes to picking the one for you, which one should you go for?
You should first remember that these are platform and ecosystem specific. So Siri is built for Apple/iOS ecosystem. Alexa is built for Amazon’s line of services, and GA for Google’s. So you should pick the assistant based on which ecosystem you’re currently using.
On the accuracy of voice control, all of them are equally competing. Google Assistant is no better than Siri or Alexa. It depends on how you speak and your environment. All three can be trained, and they learn pretty quickly.
When it comes to finding relevant and accurate information, Google Assistant seems to have an edge. Thanks to their massive database of data and their nature of business (scraping and indexing information), GA can serve up information quicker and better. Even its translations are fairly accurate.
Next on the list is Amazon, which also has a massive collection of data. Siri fails in this regard, and even Apple employees acknowledged that their assistant was not meant to answer trivial questions.
Google Assistant FAQs
Do you still have questions about Google Assistant? Here, we answer the top frequently asked questions.
- Does Google Assistant support the iPhone?
Yes. From 2018 onwards, Google Assistant was made available on iPhones and can be downloaded from the App Store.
- Can I change Google Assistant to a man’s voice?
Yes. There’s an option to change the default female voice to a male voice under Settings.
- Google Assistant’s newest features?
The newest features include screening calls, scheduling, privacy controls, Duplex (for making hotel, cafe reservations), ride booking, among others.
- Does Amazon Echo work with Google Assistant?
Yes. You just need to set it up properly.
- Can Google Assistant confirm payment by voice?
Yes. If you’ve configured it appropriately and granted it access, then it can process payments on your behalf. But your processor may demand additional privileges.