With the introduction of 6 new voice options for the Assistant, we decided to create a fun, new, gender-inclusive UI for their voice picker located within settings.
When Google asked the Assistant settings team to add six new voice options to the existing two for the Assistant, we encountered an interesting (and relevant) challenge.
At the time, the two existing voices were listed plainly as "Voice 1" and "Voice 2." The easy decision would have been to add Voices 3 through 8 and then call it a day. We chose not to go that route, as it potentially would have caused scalability issues in the future. Since there is the likelihood of the addition of more voices and dialects, using this option would've meant users would've had to scroll through a long vertical list of arbitrary numbers. It's also boring.
The reason why numbers were used in the first place was to avoid the use of descriptors such as "male" and "female." We wanted to be inclusive of all genders, so using descriptors such as those were out of the question.
So how do you present 8 different options without the use of archaic and sexist descriptors? What can you attach to each of those options so when a user selects one and wants to share their selection with their friends or family, they have something they can reference?
After many iterations we decided to use colors. Google's extended brand palette was extensive enough to be able to scale the design up to 20 selections (which is what we were told would be the max number of potential voice additions). This way, a user could tell others that they selected the "green" voice, and thus identify which voice they chose without being exclusive of nonbinary folks as well as without the use of subtly sexist descriptors that reinforce archaic gender stereotypes.
Google is rolling out a new UI for the voice selection screen that gives each option its own color. It looks snazzier, too.Read More