Google Pixel 6 Upgrades Google Assistant With Voice Typing and Quick Phrase Commands
Google has officially unveiled the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones, starting at $600 and $900, respectively. Both versions come with a host of voice AI upgrades and new Google Assistant features, including hands-free voice typing, live translations, and removing the need for a wake word to respond to the voice assistant in some instances.
Google has been experimenting with Google Assistant-powered voice typing for a few years, but the version for the new Pixels goes beyond the current dictation tool in Gboard first teased last year. The feature allows the entire messaging process to run by voice command, starting with “Hey Google, type,” although there’s also a microphone icon that users can tap to get the AI to start listening. Once the message is complete, users can undo the most recent line, delete specific words or remove whole sentences. Should the AI have trouble with spelling, users can switch to spelling out the word one letter at a time or move the cursor around the screen to insert text. The extra commands also work to complete emails to add a subject and address it to contacts directly or as a Cc. The user can even add emojis by voice command if they name them correctly. The new features rely on the new Google Tensor chip system introduced with the Pixel 6 smartphones and tailored for Google’s AI infrastructure.
“Google Tensor enables entirely new capabilities for your smartphone, and makes Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro more helpful and more personal,” Google product vice president Brian Rakowski explained in a blog post. “Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro also have improved speech recognition and language understanding models, so it can make everyday tasks easier. For instance, you can now use your voice to quickly type, edit, and send messages with Assistant voice typing in Messages, Gmail and more. Let Google Assistant help with adding punctuation, making corrections, inserting emojis and sending your messages.”
Quick Phrase Linguistics
The new Pixel smartphones also offer more immediate linguistic help. The new Live Translate feature integrates into messaging apps like WhatsApp and Google Messages, identifying foreign languages and translating accordingly. Any response can be translated to the initial language before it is sent. Users can download the language models so the translation can run offline. Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode for instant translation received its own upgrade to work offline with English, German, and Japanese and supports 48 languages when online. Live Translate also updates the real-time transcription feature from last year, transcribing any audio playing on the phone into the user’s language, although the live captions don’t include as many languages yet.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the first to run the rumored Quick Phrases feature, which enables Google Assistant without a wake word. For now, those commands are limited to responding to incoming calls and snoozing or stopping alarms. To keep the quick phrases under the control of the device owner, Google Assistant relies on the Voice Match vocal identification tool. Previous software mining suggests that simple requests related to the weather or running smart home devices could be on the list soon.