More than 400 million people worldwide speak Spanish as their native language. However, those people have been left behind by tech companies who make products based on speaking and listening, like Google Home and Amazon Echo. On Tuesday, the former remedied the situation.
Google announced in a company blog post Tuesday morning that its Home line of smart-speaker products would listen and speak Spanish, starting immediately. According to Google, it is as easy as going to the preferences section of the Google Home app and changing the digital assistant’s language to Spanish.
The only somewhat awkward part is that Spanish commands still need to start with the phrase “Ok Google,” just as they would in English. One of the examples Google listed was using “Ok Google, ¿cómo será mi día?” to make Google Assistant give the user a summary of their schedule that day.
The feature is available on Google Home and its Mini and Max variants, which uncoincidentally launched in Mexico on Tuesday. It had been on store shelves in Spain for about a week, according to Engadget. Spanish support for the mobile Android version of Google Assistant launched in November.
Google Home can now speak Spanish. Google Home Minis on display during Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair at Spring Studios on April 12, 2018 in New York City.Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, at least by number of native speakers. It had an estimated 437 million native users in 2017. Even still, voice-based products like Google Home and Amazon Echo have been slow to support Spanish. Home did not get it until Tuesday, and Echo will likely take Spanish commands when it launches in Spain later this year.
Home’s sudden Spanish support gives it a leg up in the competition against Echo, given the sizable Spanish-speaking market. Echo has outsold Home overall since 2017, but recent estimates concluded Home actually sold 3.1 million units in the first quarter of 2018, well above Echo’s 2.5 million units sold.
Apple’s version of the product, HomePod, has been a sales disappointment, by comparison.
Google Home is not the only tech product or app to accommodate Spanish speakers this month. Facebook Messenger recently got the ability to automatically translate messages from Spanish to English, and vice versa.