Google Assistant Adds Parental Controls and New Voices for Kids
Google Assistant has added four new voices specifically designed to interact with children as part of a set of new kid-friendly features. The voice assistant’s new voices are available alongside a new dictionary with age-appropriate answers, as well as expanded parental controls for parents to curate the experience of kids with Google Assistant.
The four new kid-friendly voices offer a mix of speaking styles but share a slower pace and notably better enunciation compared to the standard versions. The voices are gender-neutral and named Breeze, Cosmic, Explore, and Rio. Users can switch to the new voices by asking the voice assistant to “change your voice.”
“Kids today are growing up with technology, so it’s important that their experiences are developmentally appropriate. In addition to our increased efforts around safety and education, we’re also introducing four new kid-friendly voices,” Google Assistant vice president Sissie Hsiao explained in a blog post. “These new voices, which we designed alongside kids and parents, were developed with a diverse range of accents to reflect different communities and ways of speaking. And like a favorite teacher, these voices speak in slower and more expressive styles to help with storytelling and aid comprehension.”
The voices come with the new Kids Dictionary. The feature answers questions posed to Google Assistant with responses designed for younger users, with shorter and simpler responses. The feature is automatically engaged when the voice assistant identifies the speaker’s voice to a child’s profile. The kid’s profile can also be more finely controlled, thanks to the introduction of parental controls for Google Assistant. Parents can disable some of the voice assistant’s features, like phone calls and what answers the AI offers, as well as restrict what media it will play, limiting the choice to YouTube Kids or preventing them from playing news and podcasts. Parents can also set downtime where the kids can’t use the connected devices.