Okay, Google … what’s today’s weather? Today, you can expect showers with a high of 50 degrees. Now just imagine that last part came back to you in the voice of John Legend. Google announced today at its annual I/O conference that Google Assistant is getting six new male and female voices, one of which is one-time Jesus John Legend.
Google says the new AI voices, built with WaveNet, have been engineered to sound more human. CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated Legend’s voice — which won’t be available to answer and respond to every command and question, since, being that he’s not a robot, his responses are limited by what Legend said during studio sessions — with a video of Legend recording answers in a studio. “Couscous, a type of North African semolina in granules made from crushed durum wheat,” Legend says into the microphone. There’s also a bit with him singing Happy Birthday “to the person whose birthday it is” so it seems like you’ll be able to get John Legend, via your Google Assistant, to sing you a lovely, if impersonal, round of Happy Birthday. “You can find me on all kinds of devices. Phones. Google Homes. And, if I’m lucky, in your heart.”
The new robot voices will be available today, but Legend’s voice will not be rolled out until later this year, Pichai said. The partnership explains why Legend’s text bubbles went from blue — the standard for iOS users — to green in the screenshots of conversations between him and Kanye West.