Google Assistant’s expansion story wouldn’t be as impressive without the support for regional dialects and Actions (third-party apps for the virtual helper). Bolstering its presence in regions around China, Actions on Google recently added support for the Cantonese language in Hong Kong. The voice assistant can already interact in far more languages than any of its counterparts, and this new addition will only make its presence stronger.
Actions on Google developers can opt for Cantonese for their users in Hong Kong (zh-HK), where the language is widely spoken. The new dialect will allow them to better integrate their services with the Assistant, and bring more content in the users’ native tongue. Several phrases that locals can use to trigger supported Actions are listed on the Languages and locales page, but I cannot comment on their efficacy being a non-native, while results from Google Translate were vague at best. Cantonese’s close relative Chinese (traditional) was added to the list earlier this year for speakers in Taiwan as Google services don’t operate in mainland China.
This is the first time Google has introduced any kind of support for Cantonese to its voice assistant. Perhaps, a full-fledged rollout of the language is in toe, and bringing it first to developers could be a part of the prep work before it goes live widely for all the users.
Cantonese just went live for all of Google Assistant users a couple days after being available to developers. It now has its own landing page on the Assistant’s website with the same zh-HK language code, and is referred to as “Chinese (Hong Kong)” across language selectors in supported Google services. Speaking of which, not everyone is seeing the dialect in the voice assistant’s language settings just yet, though it works for me, as shown in the included screenshot. Cantonese speakers can use the language only on Assistant-enabled phones while other products like smartwatches and speakers aren’t supported yet.