With a lot of potential, Google has announced its Assistant earlier this year. In October, it was previewed Actions on Google, the developer platform for Google Assistant. Also said, it will launch its Actions on Google program in December. Today, Google opens up its Assistant actions to developers, letting them create “conversation actions,” little bots that you’ll be able to interact with using the Google Home speaker. Here is everything you need to know about.
Assistant actions for developers is one type of digital helper that could get much more powerful soon. In its testing period, it seems the company’s new Home speaker and Pixel smartphones found the digital helper rather limited. Now that Google has launched Assistant’s developer platform, though, the service could finally become as muscular as promised.
The platform, called Actions on Google, was actually described at the company’s October event, and is a little bit like IFTTT. Developers will literally be able to create at least two types of Actions — Direct and Conversation. For now, only Conversation Actions are only available. These create a back-and-forth interaction with Assistant, and “users won’t need to enable a skill or install an app, they can simply ask to talk to your actions,” according to Google’s blog post.
The company wouldn’t say when Home and the Google Assistant would be fully open to third-party developers, but some partners that have already been working with the firm could announce new actions in the coming weeks. Making a decent conversation bot is hard, so Google is suggesting services like its own API.AI, which is meant to simplify the process for developers.
Actions are somewhat weird and new kind of audio thing that sits somewhere between a website, a chat bot, and an app. They’re similar to the “skills” on Amazon’s Alexa platform, but there are some important differences.
First thing and important differentiating factor is that Google is not going to create an”Action Store” where users can select which ones they want and “install” them to Google Home. Rather, Google itself is going to approve all the keywords that developers want to use to invoke their actions and make them all available to everyone. Essentially means that actions will be curated by Google (like an app store), but users won’t require to install anything beyond using them. ” It’s not a direct analog to any existing ecosystem,” says Jason Douglas, director for actions on Google.
There will be app store-like policies in place to prevent things like keyword camping – one developer using another company’s name for their action or another developer trying to jump on owning important keywords like “shopping”. This is a large reason for there being a review process. Much of the terms compliance is this process of a name selection, Douglas said.
Direct actions don’t require a conversation, such as turning on your lights or playing a song – still need a partnership with Google. Assistant lives in a weird zone alongside Siri and Alexa, that’s simultaneously more open and less open than app stores. That sort of closed-ecosystem is not the goal for the Google Assistant, but those philosophical ecosystem concerns don’t feel especially urgent at this early stage. Google just needs to get the developers’ new actions for Home working and out door to consumers. Also it needs to enable more complicated actions like buying and booking stuff. By the way, it has to build an assistant ecosystem that can hardly compete with the likes of Siri, Alexa, and of course, Cortana.
Beyond that, it needs to ensure that talking to Home is consistent with using the other places where users can ask Google Assistant for answers: Allo and Pixel range. Answer comes saying “Actions on Google will eventually be everywhere the Assistant is.”
The roadmap is on its way, coming soon. Until then, Google is focused on getting developers making things for Google Home. Amazon’s Echo may have a long head start, but Google is rushing to catch up now. Interested developers can request early access partners to try out upcoming features and those who want to get started on Conversation Actions can go over to the Actions for Google website here.
The company also promises to make the developers’ integration across the various Assistant-enabled services and devices like Allo app and the Pixel phones. Also get support for purchases and bookings as well as deeper Assistant integration is coming. It seems like Google’s digital helper will be getting many more functions, making its supported devices potentially smarter and more unique.
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