How to make John Legend your new Google Assistant voice

Imagine hearing the silky smooth voice of John Legend answering your questions.

Starting today, John Legend’s voice is available as a cameo on the Google Assistant, available in English in the U.S. For a limited time, the Grammy-winning artist will sing “Happy Birthday” to you, tell you the weather, and answer questions like “Who is Chrissy Teigen?” right in your own home.

Google Assistant is launching its first celebrity voice cameo, with silky-smooth voice of John Legend.

Want to experience it yourself? Just say, “Hey Google, talk like a Legend,” and you’ll hear John’s dulcet tones for select content when you ask the Assistant for jokes or for answers to questions like “Why is the sky blue?” Naturally, he’ll have answers for questions about his personality, about his own life, such as his wife Chrissy Teigen or his favorite type of music. Some of those answers will be canned, but others will take advantage of WaveNet speech synthesis to deliver a customized response. Give it a go by saying, “Hey Google…”

  • “Are you John Legend?”
  • “What’s your favorite type of music?”
  • “What’s the temperature outside?”
  • “Who is Chrissy Teigen?”
  • “Tell me a joke.”

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All other responses will continue to be in one of the regular Assistant voices. After you make the change, listen up—you may hear some fun surprises along the way and a treat for John Legend fans. Here’s a couple to get you started, just say

  • “Hey Google, serenade me” or
  • “Hey Google, are we just ordinary people?”

Cameo voices on the Assistant have been one of the top requests, and with the help of state-of-the-art speech synthesis model, WaveNet, they’re now a reality. Enjoy hearing John’s voice as the Google Assistant. This feature is objectively whimsical and right up Google’s intersection of technological advancement and fun. It speaks to a geeky fantasy of talking computers — which we’ve had for a long time, since days of HAL 9000.

Google had Legend record answers to a few select prompts, and there are a couple of Easter eggs in there as well, but most responses will continue to be in a regular Assistant voice. Why in select prompts and not all, you may ask. After that initial amusement, which will definitely provide users with that bit of intended whimsy, there should be some thought to how a readily available voice generator is ripe for abuse and doctored speech. For example, imagine some nefarious person passing off a Legend response from Assistant as a supposedly “leaked” voicemail to a tabloid.

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Ask Google to turn on John Legend’s voice

  • Say: “Hey Google, talk like a Legend.” This method works for devices where Google Assistant is always listening.
  • If your phone doesn’t have always-on Assistant set up, launch Google Assistant (By long-pressing the Home button or pressing the Google Assistant button on your Android phone) and say “talk like a Legend.”

Pick John Legend’s voice from the Assistant app

  • Open the Google Assistant app on your device
  • Tap the button depicting three vertical dots
  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Preferences
  • Tap “Assistant Voice”
  • Make your selection through the picker

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John’s voice is available as a cameo on any Google Assistant device — including Android, iOS, Google Home, Smart Displays — will garner a response from the actor and songwriter. The feature is only available in English in the US, but this is likely just the beginning of Google adding more celebrity cameos, expect to hear more cameos from celebrity names in more regions.

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