What just happened? Google is aiming to makes its line of Google Home smart devices more accessible. The company has officially added support for bilingual conversations, allowing household members to alternate between two different languages at any time, receiving answers in the language that was spoken.
Bilingual households are relatively common nowadays, especially as more immigrants arrive in the US over time. In broad terms, this is generally a non-issue - the US is a cultural melting pot, after all.
However, balancing multiple languages can bring a few minor annoyances to a bilingual family's day-to-day life - particularly in the realm of smart assistants.
For example, smart speakers can generally only be set to operate in one language at a time, which can be problematic if an immigrant family's parents speak Spanish while the children speak English.
As we mentioned, this is a small problem, but it seems to be a big enough issue that Google has decided to take action. At IFA 2018, the company announced that its Google Assistant AI helper has received "multilingual support," possessing the ability to understand and speak in up to two languages at once.
If that doesn't make sense at first, the feature is fairly simply. Users will be able to go into their Google Assistant settings and select two languages for the device to use.
After that, a Spanish speaker will receive Spanish answers, which can instantly be followed up by English questions and English answers.
"With our advancement in speech recognition, you can now speak two languages interchangeably with the Assistant on smart speakers and phones and the Assistant will respond in kind," Google's announcement reads.
It should be noted that Assistant only supports a handful of languages at the moment; English, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and German, specifically. However, "more languages" will arrive in the coming months.
If you do live in a bilingual household and you want to test this feature out, it should be available right now.