Since it was first unveiled in 2016, Google Home has become a staple of millions of living spaces in the U.S. With its ability to answer everything from our most mundane questions (Hey, Google, what's the weather like today?) to the more substantial ones (Hey, Google, how big is the universe?)—and connect with calendars, music, smart lighting, and more—the technology has transformed various elements of our daily routines. Today, Google unveiled an update to its product, one that's squarely aimed at a growing segment of the U.S. population: bilingual households.
Beginning today, all Google Home products powered by the Google Assistant (Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max) can understand and respond to questions in up to four languages interchangeably. And for the first time ever, Google Assistant functions in five languages outside of English: French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian.
Google's move to incorporate bilingual households is a smart one, as the number of children who can speak two or more languages has risen more than 2 percent in the past decade, according to a study by Kids Count, an organization that annually tracks various metrics of U.S. children. While the technology is a giant leap in helping bilingual families, there is still work to be done by the Mountain View, California, technology company. Though English and Spanish account for the large bulk of most common languages spoken in U.S. households (combined, the two total roughly 270 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), other languages that are among the most spoken in the country are not part of Google's most recent upgrade. Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) and Arabic—the third and sixth most common languages in the U.S., respectively—are notably absent from the Google upgrade. That's a pretty big oversight: Just under 3 million Americans count one of the two as their main language.
Hopefully, the next update will include these, and other languages as well. For now, however, there is no doubting the fact that this new technology will be of service to countless families across the country. And for that, we can all say, "Hey, Google—merci."