The new celebrity voice is only available on a limited time basis, and can be invoked by saying “Hey Google, talk like a Legend.” Although most complex requests will still be handled by the standard Google Assistant voice, you’ll hear Legend’s voice when you ask for the temperature or when asking random questions like “Why is the sky blue” or “Tell me a joke.”
You can also ask AI John Legend more personal questions like “Who is Chrissy Teigen” in reference to his wife, or “What’s your favorite type of music?” There are also some other Easter Eggs tossed in for those that want to really dig around and explore the new voice.
Google says that the John Legend voice is made possible by its WaveNet speech synthesis engine, which is backed by the company’s powerful DeepMind artificial intelligence. In essence, WaveNet can realistically capture and reproduce the essence of a person’s voice without needing the donor subject to spend an exhaustive amount of time in a studio belting out canned phrases.
For now, the John Legend voice is only available in the U.S. on a “cameo” basis, and can be heard on Google Home and Smart Display devices along with Android and iOS platforms.
In other Google AI news, Google Duplex is rolling out to non-Pixel smartphones. This expansion of Google Duplex was first announced in early March and is currently being demonstrated on the Samsung Galaxy S10 family of smartphones.
For those that don’t recall, Google Duplex uses some incredible AI to make reservations for you – be it a restaurant or a hair salon, for example. You give the AI assistant the name of the establishment, the number of people that will be attending (for a restaurant reservation), and the day/times that you’re available. Duplex then makes the call for you, leaving you free to do other things in the process.
XDA-Developers’ Max Weinbach explained that he wanted to make a reservation for dinner over the weekend for his family, and was pleasantly surprised to see his Galaxy S10+ handle the task with aplomb. “Assistant went on to say it will call the restaurant for me and asked for the party size, date, and time,” wrote Weinbach. “Once it did this, it said to wait 15 minutes and I will get a notification confirming my reservation. Under 6 minutes later, my reservation was confirmed.”
We don’t have confirmation if Google Duplex is being rolled out to devices other than the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. The service is currently supported in 43 U.S. states, and Google is working with state governments to expand that list.