At I/O 2018, Google noted how celebrity voices are a top Assistant feature request. Following Amazon last month bringing its first voice to Echo, Google Assistant today is getting its second with Issa Rae.

As teased earlier this week, the actress, writer, and director follows musician John Legend, who lent his voice to Assistant this April. These “cameo voices” only answer a subset of common queries like the weather or other trivial commands, and are only available for a “limited time.” All other responses are handled by the ten regular Assistant voices.

To enable the new celebrity voice, you can just say “Hey Google, talk like Issa.” Alternately, it’s selectable from Assistant settings > Assistant tab > Assistant voice. The Cameo Voice is marked by a yellow star and appears before the existing presets. It features a cover image and sample phrase:

Hey, Issa Rae here, I lent my voice to your Google Assistant so you can hear me do things like answer your questions, brief you on the weather, and tell jokes while the regular Assistant voice handles the rest. Let’s have some fun.

Behind-the-scenes, Google is leveraging DeepMind’s WaveNet speech synthesis to produce a natural voice without requiring actors to spend an inordinate amount of time in recording booths.

Cameo voices are available on Google Home speakers, Smart Displays, Android, and iOS. This latest voice begins rolling out today and is free to use. Example Issa Rae phrases, Easter eggs, and other “surprises” include:

  • “Do I need an umbrella today?”
  • “Tell me a secret.”
  • “What do you think of me?”
  • “Give me a quote from Issa Rae.”
  • “Sing a song.”
  • “Tell me a joke.”
  • Or ask, “Mirror talk” or “How do I look?” for confidence-boosting affirmations.
  • You can even hear a few surprises—like Issa’s take when you ask, “Hey Google, do you love Daniel or Lawrence more?” or “Hey Google, tell me something awkward.”

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Abner Li

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