What’s in a voice? A lot more than you might think.
Google Assistant may interact with users on many different devices and platforms, but the most frequent way — and often the only way — it will respond to you is with its voice. As such, picking a Google Assistant voice that’s pleasing, comforting, and trustworthy can dramatically boost your feeling of connection to Google’s AI as well as increase your willingness to call on it for information or help.
If you live in select countries like the United States, you get a choice of which voice you’d prefer Google Assistant to speak to you with, but choosing one of these voices can be a bit like going on a blind date. When you go into Google Assistant’s settings to pick a new voice, each of the voices is not given a number anymore, nor is it given a name. Each Google Assistant voice is given a color, and just as the colors of the rainbow have whole hosts of meanings throughout our cultures, the color of each voice has a distinct sound, speed, and personality.
Let’s take a spin around Google’s color wheel and pick a voice that’s right for you!
Red: The Classic
Red is the original Google Assistant voice, and for some countries and many many hearts, she’s still the only voice. Her easy tone and subtle warmth conjured up images of lipstick and candy apples. Red’s voice is inviting, embracing, and welcoming to new users — not too fast or too slow, not too lively or too mellow — but as the default, Red also gets a little, well, stale.
For better or worse, Red is the most widely-used Assistant voice.
It’s not her fault. She’s everywhere: the ads for Google Assistant use Red’s voice, as do the demo videos and as the default voice, she’s what everyone who doesn’t realize or doesn’t care to customize their Google Assistant’s voice. She’s also the voice that some newer or more niche skills will switch back to if they’re not supported by another color’s voice yet.
Orange: The Sidekick
Orange is a bright, warm color of nutrition, of the fall harvest, and the highly visible color used for warning signs and visibility vests. Orange is bold, so Orange the color clashes ever-so-slightly with Orange the voice, which is a little slower and almost a little timider.
His voice is that of an Assistant that bends over backward to stay out of your way; he wants to help you, but he won’t speak up unless called upon. Orange’s voice can be rich and fun once you warm up to him, and he’s not going to boss you around when you ask him for directions or recipe instructions.
Amber: The Cheerleader
Amber is warm and bright as her namesake color. Her higher pitch and honeyed voice encourages you to ask her more questions, play more games, and think of Assistant not as some stuffy, know-it-all taskmaster but as a friend that wants to help you when you’re bored just as much as she wants to help when you’re busy.
Amber’s cadence is a little faster than the classic Red, her excitement growing with each Routine she successfully executes and each game she lets you win. This is an Assistant voice that’s perfect for pushing you to go further, do more, and seize the day.
Green: The Zen
If Google Assistant was a jazz player, it would be Green, the voice I have personally used for as long as it’s been around because he is smooth as a fine whiskey and just a sip can help me calm down on a stressful day. Green sounds like a voice that would ask you if you if you want to join him for a meditation session with Sleep Sounds.
Green’s very zen, and that’s a very good feature for a voice to have when the world feels like it’s flying apart at a million miles an hour.
Cyan: The Muse
Cyan is Green’s next door neighbor, and I like to imagine that she joins him for those meditation sessions and some early morning yoga. Cyan is another mellow voice, the voice of reason and calm that will guide you through your busy day and then help you kick back and unwind before summoning up the ocean waves for a well-deserved nap.
Cyan isn’t as quick as Amber, but she’s steady, smooth, and dependable while still ready to let down her hair and start the dance party at a moment’s notice.
Blue: The Confidant
Blue is Red’s fraternal twin brother. He’s got the same tempo and subtle warmth that welcomes new users in, ready to show off just what he can do. His voice is dependable but not deep; he’s trustworthy but not overbearing, making him a great companion and confidant.
When you need someone to share your ideas with — he writes them down for you to come back to later — you can safely confide your deepest darkest calendar plans with Blue, who may even have a few ideas about how to help you with pulling off that forbidden island escape or burying a body.
Or a surprise party. Let’s go with the surprise party.
Purple: The Guide
Purple’s the loving, gentle guide to newer users, older users, and anyone looking for a motherly mentor. Her slower, clearer cadence is easier to follow along with, and her voice is soft and sweet when you’re asking her how to do your homework late into the night or trying to figure out how to make breakfast without waking up your partner.
If you’re trying to acclimate someone to a Google Home who’s not used to Google Assistant seeming omnipotence, Purple is a voice that can help them lower their suspicions and ease them into trusting her with their timers, recipes, and help.
Pink: The Announcer
Pink may be a the back of Google’s color wheel — seriously, how do you not put Pink up front with Red?! — but he has more than enough drama and panache to make up for it! Pink’s deep voice comes straight from an old-fashioned commercial, ready to pull out the classic "IN A WORLD…" and turn your everyday life into a movie trailer!
Pink’s deep voice can imbue a sense of trust and knowledge to some users, and his confident readings can make even the most mundane facts seem exciting. Like the color, Pink is bold, has flair for the dramatic, and hosts a good sense of humor. After all, Real Men Wear Pink.
British Racing Green: The Elusive
This voice is stiffer than most of the so-called "American" voices, and yet she’s also slightly aloof, relaxed, like she’s somewhat distracted by trying to run all the devices in your ever-expanding smart home. If you’ve ever seen BBC’s Sherlock, British Racing Green — I’ve nicknamed her BRiGitte — is like Mycroft’s phone-obsessed assistant Anthea got absorbed by Google Assistant during one of Holmes’ weirder cases.
This is one of the newer voices added to Google Assistant, and as such, she’ll still have to turn to big sister Red for some newer commands that haven’t been adapted for her voice profile yet, but that’s okay, Brigitte! We still love you!
Sydney Harbour Blue: The Gentle
Sydney is Brigitte’s cousin twice removed from the other end of the planet. She speaks a hair more slowly than Brigitte, but she sounds a tiny bit more alert than her, too. If Brigitte is the aloof girl everyone fawns over, Sydney is the girl next door — well, girl next continent, anyway — that knows exactly how you feel, but is patiently waiting for you to figure it out yourself and tell her.
Like Brigitte, Sydney may have to turn to Red for some newer or lesser-used commands and skills, but she’s a fun addition to the Google Assistant family, and she’s worth getting to know. Just don’t ask her why she doesn’t sound more like Crocodile Dundee.
Which voice colors your world?
The voices and their personalities are quite hard to sum up into one-word colors — and I really do wish Google would name their voices — but which color voices your Google Assistant? Green has been my companion this summer, minus a few weeks where I had an affair with Pink.
I’m sorry, Green! You were going through an awkward phase and Pink was just so dynamic! FORGIVE ME!!!
Updated January 2019: Google has given us some international flavour with British Racing Green and Sydney Harbour Blue, and we’ve updated our guide to welcome them to the vocal family! G’day!
January 9, 2019 at 08:02AM