Google Home is finally getting a feature that its users have been clamoring for since it launched last year: it can now distinguish between different voices and reply with personalized responses. Until now, you could only connect a single account to a Google Home, and that meant you could only get info about one person’s calendar, for example. If you’re single or don’t have roommates, that’s perfectly fine, but the moment you live with somebody else, that’s a pretty obvious problem.
With today’s update, which should be rolling out in the U.S. as you read this (and which is coming to the U.K. in the coming months), up to six people can share a Google Home. So now, when you ask your morning commute, you’ll get the info about your route and not your spouse’s. The same goes for playlists, schedules, shopping lists, travel info and every other kind of personalized information you’d want to ask you Google Assistant about.
The process of training your Google Home to understand different voices is pretty straightforward. Once this feature is available, you’ll see a card in the Google Home app that tells you that “multi-users is available.” Then, new users can link their Google accounts to the Home and train the Assistant to recognize them by speaking the “OK Google” or “Hey Google” wake word a few times so Google’s neural network can learn the sound of their voice.
While Google didn’t have any official comment about this, this new feature may also finally open up a path to bringing some of the Google Assistant features like creating notes, reminders and events that are currently missing on Home (but available on Android, for example). Those features didn’t make much sense on a device that, while inherently communal, could only recognize a single voice.
Maybe this also opens up room for a feature that Google showed in its launch video at its I/O developer conference last year but also never launched: proactive alerts. Right now, Google Home is mostly a passive device that waits for your commands. Unlike the Assistant (and previously Google Now), it doesn’t alert you when it’s time to leave for the airport, for example. The ability to recognize different voices means some (though not all) of the privacy concerns some people may have around this feature could not be solved (though this would go beyond recognizing who speaks a wake word).