In the Pixel 4a's announcement post, Google said that the new Assistant, which had been only available in English and Japanese so far, would "soon" support four new languages. Nearly two months later, that promise is materializing. You can now use the faster and cleaner Assistant in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Regardless of the language of your Pixel 4 or 4a, head into Assistant's settings (via voice command or homescreen shortcut) and make sure the main language is one of the four additions. You still get an error message if you try to pick two languages, even if both are supported. So if you're dead-set on activating multiple languages, you'll be relegated to the old Assistant interface.
It works when only one language is chosen, not with two.
When you activate a new language, the new Assistant will need to download a small file (around 5MBs) — likely because some of the processing happens on-device. After that, the minimal interface with the quadri-colored halo shows up at the bottom of the display, and you can talk to your Assistant. All answers also spring up from the bottom of the screen, without taking the entire display.
Here it is in action with the four newly-added languages:
In my experience, this new Assistant experience is indeed more streamlined and faster at recognizing words, so the on-device processing is doing its thing. However, several of the advantages we've come to expect of it in English aren't present with other languages:
- There's no continuous conversation, so you'll have to activate Assistant repeatedly to ask several questions.
- The Google Chrome integration is non-existent.
- You can reply to messages in WhatsApp and other messengers, search for hotels in Maps, but I either can't seem to find the keywords to activate the four other in-app experiences (I tried all the synonyms I could think of) or they haven't been integrated yet. If they work, you'll be able to find and share pics in Photos, do a search in YouTube and Gmail, and open websites with simple commands.
If you speak these four languages and were waiting for the new Assistant to add support for them, you can get started right away. Keep in mind though that this only works on the Pixel 4 and 4a series (and should come soon to the Pixel 4a 5G and 5).
- Matthieu Geffard