Google Now will soon be able to switch between languages on the fly

by: Bogdan PetrovanJune 26, 2014

okay google now voice commands

Google is rolling out a big update to the Search app, adding the ability to use the “OK, Google” hotword from anywhere in the phone’s interface. According to a company executive, one more feature coming soon to Google Now is simultaneous support for multiple languages.

Talking to CNET, Tamar Yehoshua, VP of Google’s Search team, said Now will soon be able to understand up to seven languages and switch between them as needed, without the user’s input. Users will first need to select the secondary languages from the settings, but after that, switching between languages will happen seamlessly.

Currently, you can only interact with Google Now in one language at a time, so talking in French to a phone set to English will result in an error message or gibberish, at best.

The feature doesn’t seem to be present on the devices we tested, even if we had the latest version of the Search app installed. It appears that Google is enabling this feature (as well as the system wide hotword support) on a per-user basis.

Support for the new feature should roll out to all users in the following days.

Google’s engineers also touched on some of the difficult problems they have to solve in order to make voice interaction “just work”. One big problem is making voice recognition software capable of understanding accents and unusual speech patterns, such as kids’ speech. Google Now is 0ne or two years away from beginning to understand the speech of small children, but it may take more time to perfect the voice recognition to human-like levels

“It’s going to be five years, maybe less, before my computer can recognize child speech as well as I can,” Google engineer Johann Schalkwyk said.

Other problems that Google is working to solve are how to recognize voice commands in noisy environments and from a distance of more than just a few feet.

  • MasterMuffin

    My G Now is weird. On home screen it says “Sano OK Google” (Say OK Google) but if I say “OK Google” in a Finnish way it won’t recognize it. After I pronounce it like an English speaking person would, it recognizes me and says “Puhu nyt” (speak now). And if I speak Finnish to it, it doesn’t understand. Wat.

  • Roberto Tomás

    will this also come to the same service on chrome?

  • Ste

    It’ll be wonderfull if the keyboard would do the same like the one on the galaxys

  • Jason

    Hoping this will come to Note 2. Man, I love android. This is the type of thing I would have had to wait for ios ‘x’ to release on the iPhone… it just gets pushed down as soon as it’s ready!