John Legend’s Google Assistant celebrity voice disappearing later this month

At I/O 2018, Google unveiled celebrity voices for Assistant, starting with talented musician — and friend of the company — John Legend. Available since last April, the company announced today that it’s pulling Legend’s cameo voice on March 23.

Celebrity voices in Google Assistant were billed from day one as only being available for a limited time. They can respond to a subset of popular queries, like asking for a forecast and other everyday questions. Over time, their capability expanded to encompass more commands.

Google last year did not specify a time frame and the March 23 date comes just shy of a year (April 3). Celebrity voices have been a top request for Assistant and fit into the company’s goal to get “accents, languages, and dialects right globally.” Also disappearing are Legend-specific easter eggs like “Serenade me,” “Sing Happy Birthday,” and “Do you know Chrissy Teigen?”

Issa Rae’s cameo — introduced in October — should still be available after the first removal. These voices are generated using WaveNet text-to-speech from DeepMind that allows more natural-sounding output with shorter recording sessions for actors.

Assistant John Legend voice

All other responses are handled by the ten regular Assistant voices. To enable, users can still say “Hey Google, talk like a Legend,” or manually open the “Assistant voice” menu in Assistant Settings. The John Legend Cameo Voice features a star and includes a cover of the musician.

All devices with Assistant set to US English can access the voice, including Google Home speakers, Smart Displays, iOS, and Android.

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Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: