Google Now has become one of Google’s flagship products, completely replacing the default search application in Android, being linked with Play Services, and being one of the major pieces of technology behind projects like Google Glass and Android Wear, through the excellent voice recognition component. A great thing is that, since Google Now is able to be updated through the Play Services layer, users actually get the latest features and components regardless of what version of Android they are on, or what device they have. Google has been speedy with updates and tends to quietly add features in the background that have turned Google Now from a simple search engine to the very best personal assistant ever made. Well, things apparently are about to get a little better, as Google seems to be adding simultaneous multiple language support to Google Now, a feature long requested and with major implications for international and bilingual users. Let’s take a a look!
Multiple language support is a major feature for international users, seeing as Google still reserves a major part of Google Now features exclusively for U.S. users, and you had to stick to a single language. Now, with this new feature, you can finally have multiple languages enabled. All it takes is for you to speak in the language you want the search to be done with, and Google Now should automatically detect which language you are using and what you are saying – you don’t need to press anything or configure the search in advance, it’s fully automatic. This feature has been, as usual with Google Now, quietly rolled out to users through a background update. The feature may already be enabled for your device, and you wouldn’t even know it (for devices that didn’t get it yet, it should be coming soon)! Either way, here’s how to set it up:
Open Google Now, and press the three dotted menu to get into the settings:
From there, tap “Voice”:
Once inside “Voice”, tap “Languages”:
Once you do, you will see the usual language selection menu, but with a floating message telling you how you can set up a primary language:
So, it works like this: you tap and hold over a language, and that language will be your primary language from now on. Additionally, you can select other languages by simply marking the checkbox next to it. You can have up to 4 languages enabled at the same time. Then, just make a voice search, and Google Now will automatically detect which one of those languages you are using, and what you are saying. Detection seems to actually be surprisingly good, considering this is a new feature. I very rarely get false positives, and it will recognize local terms and personalities that it would not otherwise.
It’s worth mentioning that although this will allow you to naturally use multiple languages in your voice searches, some features are still U.S. English exclusive. For example, some commands involving talkback or voice response do not work in any other language but English. That is to say, although multiple languages are supported, they don’t all have the same features, and some voice commands you expect to trigger an action or voice response may do a simple voice search in other languages. This may be about to change soon, but for now, this is how it is. Make no mistake though, this is a very significant feature and a huge step for bilingual users – being able to have their voice commands automatically detected means a more powerful and more international voice search. It will only get better from here.