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John Legend's voice comes to Google Assistant today

Google's long-delayed John Legend Assistant voice made an unexpected appearance last week, but Google insisted it was a bug. Well, that claim is a bit more suspect now that we know Mr. Legend is coming to your phone and speakers this very day. According to Google, John Legend will be available for select Assistant interactions starting today.

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Tasker beta can now use WaveNet tech for natural-sounding speech, including an old lady voice

Tasker, the Android automation behemoth, is a tool limited only by your imagination — it has been used for everything from improving personal workflows to interfacing with enterprise systems. In the newest beta release, 5.7.0-beta, developer Joaomgcd demoed an interesting new feature, "Say Wavenet", which brings natural sounding Text-to-Speech to Tasker using Google's WaveNet algorithm (the same technology that powers Assistant responses).

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Google's six new Assistant voices are now live

During the Google I/O keynote, Google talked about the WaveNet voice engine and how it was making speech synthesis more realistic. To drive the point home, Google announced six new Assistant voices were coming to devices. We expected them to roll out at a later date, but they're already live in the Assistant settings.

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Google introduces 6 new voices for Assistant, plus John Legend is coming later this year

WaveNet technology from Alphabet research company DeepMind has been used to make the Google Assistant sound more natural since last year. It uses a deep neural network to generate more human sounding speech recordings, and because of that, the Assistant is much more pleasant to converse with. There have only been two voices to choose from until now, but Sundar Pichai has just announced at Google I/O 2018 that six more are available, as of today.

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Google's new Cloud Text-to-Speech platform incorporates DeepMind's WaveNet technology for more natural sounding voices

Back in December last year, we looked in-depth at the work Google has been doing to improve text-to-speech and other artificial language use cases. Artificial voice synthesis can be much more powerful and impressive thanks to WaveNet neural network technology, developed by Alphabet subsidiary DeepMind. It's been used to make the Google Assistant sound more natural, and now makes up part of a whole new product: Cloud Text-to-Speech.

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Google's new text-to-speech system sounds convincingly human

Get ready for the little person living inside your phone and speaker to sound a lot more life-like. Google believes it has reached a new milestone in the quest to make computer-generated speech indistinguishable from human speech with Tacotron 2, a system that trains neural networks to generate eerily natural-sounding speech from text, and they have the samples to prove it.

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Google Assistant now sounds more natural thanks to DeepMind's WaveNet technology

When Google acquired British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind back in 2014 nobody was really sure why. It was a secretive company without any consumer-facing products, but it clearly had some technology of interest in Mountain View. DeepMind is now part of the wider Alphabet structure, and now a little bit more is known about what goes on there, including the work it does for Google.

One of the latest projects to come out of DeepMind is called WaveNet, a deep neural network for generating more natural artificial speech recordings, and its use case at Google is obvious. Google Assistant should sound much more human now that WaveNet has been incorporated into it.

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