Those using the new Google Home smart speaker for their homes are in for a treat. Google Assistant, the voice assistant which powers the speaker is about to get some nice upgrades thanks to the device being open for third party development. What this means is that third party developers will be able to give Google Assistant new capabilities.
Google Home apps
The way the upgrades will be implemented is quite intriguing. While Google Home’s direct competitor, Amazon’s Echo speaker allows developers to come up with apps in the form of “skills” which users are required to manually add to Alexa (Amazon Echo’s digital assistant), the Google device will use another philosophy. Google has created a special platform for developers, where they can create new capabilities for Google Assistant. These functions can be simply activated through conversation.
The platform that Google is putting at the disposal of third party developers is called Actions on Google. While it currently allows the creation of new apps and functions for Google Assistant on Google Home, there are apparent plans to extend the functionality of the platform to the more commonly encountered smartphones. The new Pixel and Pixel XL handsets will supposedly gain new digital assistant apps after Google Home.
If you have used a digital assistant on a smart device before, you will definitely get a hang of what the new, upcoming Google Assistant apps will require you to do. As mentioned before, they will be based and activated by conversation. This is great news because users will no longer be required to manually install additional features. They will most likely come in the form of a software update. Once the update is complete, users will be able to activate the new feature through a vocal phrase like “OK Google, [insert feature action here]”. This formula has been used for pretty much every digital assistant available for all kinds of commands, from waking up the device to asking for information.
Google’s developer support
This isn’t the first time Google creates a platform to help developers out. Developers working on Google’s Android operating system can recall the implementation of the Android toolkit which helps them develop in the style of Android’s Material Design, enabling both efficiency and productivity in solo efforts as well as groups. For the Actions on Google platform, Google has managed to partner with an impressive number of entities which will contribute to helping developers come up with great new functionalities for Google Assistant. Among these partners are Notify.IO, DashBot, API.AI or VoiceLabs.
This isn’t something to look forward to in the future, but right now. The process of implementing new apps into the digital voice assistant has already begun, with a few third party developers already receiving access to Google Home. The new apps have been added to the device.
Digital assistants are the future
According to Google, this is a great opportunity for developers to take part in the next big thing that is going to encompass the tech industry, and that is digital assistants. While digital assistants have been around for more than a few years, the technology has been rather stale. With the exception of Apple’s Siri voice assistant, no other developer has had a digital assistant that has naturally become part of their product’s ecosystem. Google has been the closest one to achieving this feat, but in the early stages its offerings felt just as forced and unnatural as the rest of the Siri competitors that started emerging.
Through this new initiative that will improve the functionality of Google Assistant tremendously, Google is looking to involve developers heavily by allowing them to directly talk to the user. Once the new app has been added to Google Home, users won’t have to install or manually do anything. All that is required is that they use the according phrase or wakeup sentence to trigger your app. As previewed by Google, the default phrase seems to be “OK Google, let me talk to X”, where “X” is the name of your app. This will summon your app’s voice assistant which will guide the user through its functionality and options.
Google is emphasizing “conversation” with its Google Assistant initiative, and its end goal is to make interacting with Google’s voice assistant feel like a natural conversation, with the technology picking up on the transmitted information and replying accordingly. The future is promising for digital assistant technology, and Google’s ongoing projects will most likely spark discussions over the course of the upcoming year.