Google Home Gets User Voice Recognition, Will Amazon Echo Follow Its Lead?

Google Home voice recognition

Soon after reports that Google Home would support multi-user voice recognition, the company has rolled out the feature in the United States, with the United Kingdom to follow in the coming months.

Now, you’re not just going to be an anonymous “master” talking to a digital “slave”: you have been officially promoted to “master so-and-so”. Google Home brings multi-user voice recognition capabilities, but it has to be linked to multiple user accounts.

On Amazon Echo devices, multiple accounts are currently possible, but anyone can access that account with voice commands in their own voice. In short, Amazon Alexa doesn’t know who’s talking to her, but she can use the logged-in account to make purchases online no matter who’s doing the buying.

In our earlier article, titled: Will Google Home Multi-user Support be Confusing – What about Account Security?, we spoke to this point.

Google Home seems to have addressed this security concern to a degree with voice recognition, but one thing is still confusing: just a few hours after the controversial and highly reported Burger King ad was aired, Google Home stopped responding to the voice on the ad, but gave an answer when asked the same question by the device’s user, personally.

That implies one of two things: either Google was already working on such a functionality before the ad was aired, and it was mere coincidence that they enabled it hours after the broadcast, OR, Google already possessed the technology but failed to add it until there was widespread media coverage about how it could be misused.

We can give them the benefit of the doubt in this case, because the feature was actually revealed on the Google Home app ahead of the rollout, as we outlined in our first article on April 11.

So, the problem of voice identification has been solved, but we don’t know for certain whether the account security matter has been cleared up as well. Ideally, it should have been, because Google Home (at least in the United States) will now only access the personal information of the user that is speaking to it. For example, if the woman of the house asks Google Home to play music from Spotify, it will play her own playlists. If the adult son later asks for music, his Spotify account will be accessed. At least, that’s how it’s designed to work, in theory, but since the feature has just been enabled, we won’t know for a while how accurate it is.

Will Amazon follow Google’s lead and implement a similar solution for Amazon Echo devices? That still remains to be seen, but we do know that Amazon is hard at work trying to find a solution to that problem. It looks like Google has beaten them to the punch on this feature, most likely because it has been working with voice interaction for far longer than Amazon has.

If you haven’t enabled it on your Google Home device yet, update the Google Home app on your smartphone, go to “multi-user available” and then link the appropriate Google accounts. When prompted by your device, you will need to train the system by saying each of these phrases – “OK, Google” and “Hey, Google” – twice.

Let us know if this feature works well for you, or if it has any bugs or glitches – or even if you can do an impression of a family member and fool the device!

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