Yahoo’s David Pogue got a rare chance to take his cameras into a Google conference room, and within met some of the team behind Google Assistant’s personality. A series of interviews with the team give us some fresh insight into how Google’s developing its friendly new voice of the company…
One of the things that Assistant’s head product manager said was something we already know: Google isn’t about making the Assistant as human-like as possible. Rather, they want her to be useful.
Giving the assistant a personality, she says, is “to make it more conversational, but not necessarily to make it more human. It’s not about anthropomorphizing the device; it’s about actually just enabling you to get things done.”
Pogue also tried to nail down exactly the traits that Google is constantly trying to impart on Assistant. One team member interestingly noted that snarkiness isn’t one of them.
So what is Assistant’s personality? Team members describe her — or, rather, it — as friendly, optimistic, humble, and flattering.
“I’d say always helpful, always trying to be useful, but we also want to have a little bit of sense of humor,” says Andy Pratt, features lead for Personality. “It’s not gonna be as snarky as Siri.”
Another interesting piece of the interview hinted at a feature that’s not yet incorporated in Assistant. Apparently, Google’s planning to add some weather sound effects when you ask about the weather.
It’s a “work in progress,” Google told Pogue.
Another way that Assistant isn’t like Siri: Its responses incorporate sound effects. “How can we use sound effects, sound layering, music, to create an environment and create a world that goes with not only the games, but even little features?” Pratt says. “So when you ask for say the weather, maybe you have the sound of rain in the background.” (Assistant does not, in fact, provide weather sounds yet; that’s a “work in progress,” Pratt says.)
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