Google Assistant is launching its first celebrity voice cameo today, starting with the silky-smooth voice of John Legend. For a limited time, the Grammy-winning artist will sing “Happy Birthday” to you, tell you the weather, and answer questions like “Who is Chrissy Teigen?” everywhere Google Assistant is available, including iOS and Android devices.
John Legend is one of six new Google Assistant voices that were previewed at Google I/O 2018 where the company gave a preview of its speech synthesis model WaveNet. Powered by Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence, WaveNet works by sampling human speech and directly modeling audio waveforms from it, creating more realistic-sounding voices. “WaveNet allowed us to shorten the studio time, and the model can actually capture the richness of his voice,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said onstage.
Google had Legend record answers to a few select prompts, like “Hey, Google, serenade me” or “Hey, Google, are we just ordinary people?” There are a couple of Easter eggs in there as well, but most responses will continue to be in a regular Assistant voice.
To activate Legend’s voice, users can say, “Hey, Google, talk like a Legend” or go to Assistant voice in their Settings to switch to his voice. The feature is only available in English in the US, but this is likely just the beginning of Google adding more celebrity cameos in more regions.