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You can now call the Google Assistant from any phone

  • The number, 0008009191000, will allow users to make a regular voice call that will be answered by the Google Assistant
  • It doesn’t require any Internet connectivity. Calls made to this number will be free-of-charge and can be made any time

In an effort to bring the Google Assistant to those using 2G feature phones in India, Google today announced a phone number that people can use to call its voice assistant. The number, 0008009191000, will allow users to make a regular voice call that will be answered by the Google Assistant. Users can then ask the artificial intelligence (AI) any question they like.

This isn’t to be confused with Google Duplex though, which makes the Assistant a personalised service for each user.

The feature doesn’t require any Internet connectivity or data. Calls made to this number will also be completely free-of-charge and can be made any time, day or night. Google partnered with telecom operator Vodafone-Idea for the number.

According to the company, thousands of users in Lucknow and Kanpur have already tried this phone number and asked questions about sports scores, weather forecasts, news, traffic conditions etc. The service will be available to Vodafone-Idea users in India, but according to Caesar Sengupta, General Manager, Payments and Vice President, Next Billion Users at Google, the company aims to partner with other telcos too.

Further, the company is also adding an “Interpreter Mode" to the Google Assistant. This will be coming to Android and Android Go smartphones in India in the coming months and allows two people who don’t speak the same language to interact with each other. It will launch for translation between English and Hindi at the moment.

Perhaps most importantly though, Google is adding the ability to change your Assistant’s language via voice commands. So far, users have had to set their language of choice manually. Now, they can simply say “Ok Google, speak to me in Hindi," to have the Assistant speak in Hindi. The same will be applicable for the nine Indian languages. The feature is coming to all Android, Android Go and KaiOS (which runs on the JioPhone) devices.

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