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Google builds more privacy and speech tech into Google Assistant
Google Assistant is set to offer more privacy tools and improved speech tech. The news joins a range of small updates Google revealed for Assistant at CES 2020 that make for a more refined personal, voice-guided helper.
Privacy for plebes
Google wants people to know that Google Assistant is not spying on them. Though Assistant is always listening, that doesn’t mean it’s also always recording. As Google explains, Assistant is waiting in standby mode until it hears the “Hey Google” or “OK Google” catchphrase. Google reiterated that by default it does not record your voice-based queries, nor does it send them to Google for further analysis.
There are already some voice commands that help people manage their privacy through Assistant. For example, asking questions such as “Hey Google, where can I change my privacy settings” will deliver answers concerning users’ basic privacy needs. Moreover, Google has made it dead simple to delete your Assistant activity simply by asking it to.
The latest features announced at CES 2020 are two new voice actions that simplify things further. For example, saying “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you” causes Assistant to delete any speech that people don’t want Google holding onto. Last, asking “Hey Google, are you saving my audio recordings?” will launch a series of guided tutorials that will help people learn about and manage their privacy preferences — something Amazon recently did after it was caught recording people and sending them where Amazon Echo owners surely didn’t intend for them to go.
A better reading companion
Google is also previewing a way for people to use Assistant to read long-form content, such as news articles and even stories. According to Google, it is following a non-traditional path by relying on new voice datasets. These allow it to generate “more expressive and more natural” voices when reading out loud. This is particularly important when reading extended passages. After all, no one wants to listen to a robot drone on.
Simply say “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page” and Google Assistant will do its thing. Assistant is able to translate content into some 42 languages, which means many people around the world will be able to take this tech for a spin.
Last, Google Assistant should be a better travel pal. Businesses can now take advantage of interpreter mode to have Assistant translate text between two people who don’t use the same tongue.