Now it's personal: Google Home picks up support for multiple accounts, voice recognition

By Michael Simon Apr 21st 2017
Now it's personal: Google Home picks up support for multiple accounts, voice recognition
In an update rolling out to all U.S. users, Google Home will now support up to six users and be able to tell who is speaking.

The assistants in our living rooms are supposed to be as personal as they are on our phones, but it’s never really felt that way. Anyone who walks into our homes can say, “OK, Google,” or “Hey, Alexa” and get access to whatever they want, from upcoming appointments to the kind of music we like, even addressing them by your name. But a new feature rolling out to Google Home looks to add a personal touch to the impersonal home speaker.

Instead of being tied to a single account, Google will now let you set up multiple accounts on your Home device (up to six in all), so you’ll be able to get specific results from Google Assistant. And what’s more, it will recognize your voice so you won’t have to ask it to switch from a different account.

It works pretty much like it does on our phones. First, open the Google Home app and look for a card that says, "Multi-user is available." (If you don’t see the message, tap on the icon in the top right to see all of your connected devices, select your Google Home in the list, and tap Link your account.) From there, you'll be able to teach your Assistant to understand your voice, so when you say, “OK, Google,” it will provide your specific information.

Google explained how it works in a Thursday blog post: “When you connect your account on a Google Home, we ask you to say the phrases 'OK, Google' and 'Hey, Google' two times each. Those phrases are then analyzed by a neural network, which can detect certain characteristics of a person's voice. From that point on, any time you say, 'OK, Google' or 'Hey, Google' to your Google Home, the neural network will compare the sound of your voice to its previous analysis so we can understand if it's you speaking or not.”

Then you’ll be able to say, “OK, Google, play my cooking playlist,” and the speaker will begin to play your music, not your kid’s or spouse’s, though certain features will still need to be set up in the app. And it's not shutting out your friends either. Google Home will still listen to unregistered voices when asked for things like facts and games.

The update is rolling out to all U.S. Google Home users and will expand to the U.K., where Google Home only recently launched, in the coming months.

Now we’re talking: Google Home is still learning its place in our households, but both of these features were at the very top of our wish list. Aside from the privacy concerns, it’s annoying to have to funnel everything through a single account, and multiple users is an excellent addition. But we really dig the voice recognition feature. We no longer have to worry about strangers barging into our homes and saying “OK, Google” to order 5,000 rolls of toilet paper.

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