Amazon’s Alexa gets Google Calendar support; Google Home adds multi-user recognition

Language and the Machine


Amazon adds Google Calendar support for Alexa; Google Home now supports multiple users and voices; The voice technology and voice assistant ecosystem continues to evolve and improve with these updates and more.

The two leading voice assistants, Amazon Alexa and Google Home, each added features that owners have wanted for a very long time.

Alexa can finally connect to your Google Calendar

Alexa owners that use Google Calendar for work or personal life will be excited to hear that Alexa can now give overviews of the day, make changes to events, and other additions to their calendar as needed, just by speaking (via TechCrunch).

Alexa already had Outlook Calendar support since the beginning of this year, but now with G Suite as an option, it would appear that most Alexa owners now have full calendar functionality.

You can add this feature to your device through the Alexa companion app, rather than the Alexa Skill store. Go to “Settings” and then “Calendar” in the Accounts section of Settings.

Strangely enough, Google Home doesn’t have the same level of support for Google Calendar… C’mon guys! Right now, the list of Google Calendar functionality on Google Home is limited to telling you about your day, and only on the main calendar associated with your Google account. So, if you use your personal account with Google Home, you can’t access your work calendar yet.

If you ask Google Home to add an event to your calendar, or to schedule a meeting, it typically responds with “Sorry, I can’t add events to your calendar yet.” 😑

Google Home can recognize up to six different voices

Ok, enough complaining about Google Home’s lackluster calendar support, because the new multi-user voice feature is pretty amazing.

Google Home is powered by the Google Assistant. Starting today, Now, your Google Home device supports multiple users, which means the Assistant can distinguish your voice from others, creating a more personalized experience for your family, roommates, or any group setting


To add multiple users (via Google blog):

Update your Google Home app, and look for a card that says ”multi-user is available” in the app. If you don’t see a card, click on the icon in the top right to see all of your connected devices. Once you see your Google Home in the list, select “Link your account.” From there, you’ll teach your Assistant to understand it’s you, not your partner, family member or roommate—and vice versa, based on who’s speaking. For certain features, like personalized music and commute, you’ll also need to set up your preferences within the app.

This feature is starting in the U.S., and will expand to the U.K. in the coming months. This is a huge step for Google Home and the voice technology space as a whole. Personalization is an essential part of effective voice-AI, and also to advance the consumer adoption of this technology.

Many people don’t even realize they use AI, such as News Feed algorithms and Netflix recommendations. This multi-user feature can even be compared to Netflix allowing multiple profiles to sit under one account. Each profile has its own shows, interests, genres, and therefore, Netflix can make much more personalized suggestions.

Voice technology and voice-AI was a popular topic at Social Media Week in New York earlier this year. We heard from Bitly’s Chief Product Officer, Matt Thomson, who explored the state of voice technology, and also outlined The 3 Most Used Amazon Alexa Skills, and Why Marketers Should Care.

Later in the week, a panel of voice experts and language analysts unpacked the technical side of AI that powers voice recognition and virtual assistants, and how human behavior is already adapting to this new technical reality.

Michelle McSweeney (Research Fellow, Center for Spatial Research, Columbia University) explains in the video below why humans and robots (voice AI) don’t naturally connect with each other. Google Home’s update might help fix this.

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