It’s always awkward when you ask the robot (i.e. your phone’s digital assistant) to call a friend or family member, and then it responds with a cold and butchered pronunciation of that name. Now you can help stave off those unfortunate uncanny valley moments by teaching the Google Assistant how to pronounce your name and the names of folks you frequently contact.
Google demonstrated how this works in a blog post detailing some recent updates to its virtual assistant. However, the setting is buried deep in the Google app. Under Settings, tap on Google Assistant, then scroll down a bit and tap on the You badge. It takes about five steps before you even get to the option.
Under Basic Info, tap on Nickname, and you’ll see an entry for what the Assistant should call you. Once you edit, you can listen to the way Google would pronounce your name, or you can record your own. Google is only rolling out the feature this week, so the ability to edit the pronunciation of other names may not be available to you yet.
I tried the pronunciation recording feature with the Romanian variant of my name, spelled Florenta in plain English. There’s a slight “ts” accent on the letter T, which Google couldn’t pick up from me. I ended up selecting the option to spell out my name instead, and the Assistant managed fine. The feature is limited to English for now, but I was curious to see what I could get it to do.
Google says the Assistant pronunciation feature doesn’t keep a recording of your voice. It’s also a separate feature from the contacts list you have associated with your phone.
Along with the new pronunciation feature, a few other notable updates are coming through the pipeline. If you tend to stumble while shouting out a command, Google will be more liable to catch on rather than respond, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” You can also bump up timers and alarms as you need without specific increments. And the Assistant will be more responsive to follow-up commands.