In October of 2019, Google Assistant introduced an Issa Rae voice that responds to a subset of common queries, like the weather. Just shy of two years later, at the end of this month, the cameo will stop working.
Google said Assistant was gaining “cameo voices” at I/O 2018. The ability for a celebrity to respond to you was said to be a top feature request for the voice assistant. John Legend was the inaugural personality/musician, with the option going live in April of 2019. His voice was available until March of the following year.
The Issa Rae cameo voice was introduced in October 2019. Google looks to have negotiated a two-year availability with the actress, writer, and director as users in the past week have received a notification from their Nest Smart Displays and speakers. After finishing a response, Assistant adds that the voice will no longer work after September 30.
Fans of the voice are upset at the removal, but Google always said they would only be available for a limited time. These voices were generated using WaveNet text-to-speech from DeepMind that allows more natural-sounding output without requiring long recording sessions.
It’s unclear if Google plans to introduce more cameo voices in the future. They are very whimsical, with Amazon Alexa currently offering Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy, and Shaquille O’Neal. However, compared to Assistant, you have to pay $4.99 for each one.
Until the removal next week, you can still set Issa Rae by saying “Hey Google, talk like Issa”, or Assistant settings > Assistant voice. It appears at the front of the carousel with the 10 default voices following. Try out the following commands:
“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.”
More about Google Assistant:
- New Google Assistant on Pixel reverts back to original translucent design
- Assistant Driving Mode ‘Dashboard’ getting Bluetooth auto-launch & wide availability soon
- ‘Hey Google, pay for gas’ coming to Assistant as Android Auto gets Work Profile & Dual SIM support
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