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Google Assistant may soon support multiple users and a device called 'Bisto'

Why it matters to you

Multi-user in Assistant could mean greater personalization. One user could add to a shopping list separate from another, for example.

The Google Assistant, Google’s AI-powered voice service, is generally great. It can tell supply showtimes for nearby movies, recommend restaurants, control smart home products like Philips Hue bulbs and Nest thermostats, and even host a game of trivia. And if incoming updates are any indication, it is about to get better.

In tow with the latest version (7.0.4) of the beta Google App is framework for upcoming features.

Multi-user hotword detection is perhaps the most significant. Currently, the Assistant can’t recognize multiple users — when two people shout, “Hey, Google,” it can’t differentiate between them. But that might not be the case going forward. Code in the beta app references a new activity screen that will allow up to two people to train the Assistant to recognize their distinct speech patterns.

Once multiple users are able to use the Assistant, Android Police notes that they might be able to access a number of options that were previously available only on their phone, like setting personal reminders, setting messages, and creating calendar events.

It comes on the heels of a false alarm earlier this week. On Monday, some users of the Google Home app on Android received a card indicating that “multiple users [were] now supported.” A Google spokesperson later said that the message had rolled out prematurely.

The new Google app also hints at a “ratings” feature for services. The Google Assistant boasts a growing library of third-party apps that extend its capabilities, but lacks a way for users to rate and review them. The beta app’s code points to Rating Services, which will presumably add that functionality.

Interestingly, the app references an unannounced device: Bisto. There is a new preference screen for Bisto, and it appears alongside known devices such as an Android TV, Google Home, Pixel, and Android Wear. And it seems to support headphones — a coded message in the Google app instructs Bisto users that “Notifications will be read inside [their] headphones.”

It is pure speculation at this point, but Bisto could refer to the rumored successor to Google Home, Google’s eponymous smart home hub. According to The Information, the Mountain View, California-based company is working on an upgraded version with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.