The smart speakers and smart displays in your home are something of a loophole since you can set limits and block specific content on your child's device. If your kids are like mine, you've probably seen them ask weird questions to voice assistants or watch a video when they're studying. The good news is that the loophole is going to be closed by a set of parental controls.
The new controls allow you to set a Downtime that works across shared family devices and will restrict content andFunctionality based on who is asking. It's possible to restrict your kids' access to video and music services. They can't make calls or listen to news.
There are new voices.
Making the voice assistant more kid-friendly isn't the only thing that's being done to make it more child-friendly.
Sissie Hsiao, vice president of Google Assistant, said that they were developed to represent a diverse range of accents, to reflect different communities, and also different ways of speaking. The voices are a little slower and have more expression to help children understand what's being said.
Each of the four voices spoke in the demo. They sounded more comforting than the Assistant voices we're used to. Cosmic, Breeze, Explore, and Rio are all gender neutral. The new voices can be activated by kids by asking.
Children ask a lot of questions, but the answers provided by the assistant can be hard to understand. Definitions drawn from the web can be problematic. That is the reason why the kids dictionary is being introduced. Hsiao says it is a simplified, age-appropriate dictionary for speakers, smart displays, and mobile devices. When your child asks about the meaning of a word, your child's definition and image will be responded to by the assistant.
It was built for kids.
The new features will be available in the US next week. If you already have a profile set up for your kids, with specific settings for things like Downtime, you will be able to use it on your family's devices. If you set up Voice Match for your kids, they will be able to speak in their preferred voice, get definitions from the Kids Dictionary, and apply any restrictions you choose.
The new features should make it easier for families to use their devices. For example, my smart displays and speakers are currently set to play music and videos on my account, so if my kids ask for a song on the Nest Hub in the kitchen, I won't be able to listen to my podcasts on my phone. If you have the option to tie specific services to your child's voice, this shouldn't happen.