March 23, 2018

Google Allowing Third-Parties to Build Custom Commands for Assistant

10 March 2018, 10:01 | Lucia Cruz

Google Assistant adds daily updates and push notifications for voice apps

Google Assistant-enabled devices add custom commands as Actions gain notifications, playback controls

A couple of proofs of concept are coming to SXSW for this new Custom Device Actions program by Google for Google Assistant. Google will allow developers of Actions to plug into digital purchases including paid app purchases, in-app purchases, in-app subscriptions and the likes. Third-party developers create conversation-based actions on the Assistant, which means new Actions on Google will result in new Assistant features for users as well.

Users can speak with Google Assistant devices by saying "OK, Google" followed by several new phrases starting today. New features like TV show clips, relaxation sounds, news briefings, interactive stories, and more will be available. Voice commands can be used to pause or replay media, and a media player will appear on your phone. TV shows like The Daily Show will have segments available for playback and general show information. In order to encourage the usage, the new feature aims to add more functionality on such speciality devices. Notifications, "better media playback", and other brand-name actions will be added within the next few days. The new support allows Actions to send alerts like "newly added workout, a change in a stock price, or a news alert, right when it happens". According to a blog post by Google, Assistant Actions will now support "Custom Device Actions".

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For example, Todoist, the project management app, comes with support for Actions, in regards to hyper-specific commands to the app like "Mark the first task under Project 'make your graduation film' as done'". Google uses the instance of turning on a connected oven. Before, you might say something simple like "Ok Google, turn on the oven". For example, if a washer has a specific color cycle, you could activate that cycle simply by asking the Google Assistant. It also means you won't have to use the annoying "Talk to [blank]" command. Users can expect to see these features roll out as they get adopted. Enter your email to be subscribed to our newsletter.

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