Google Endows Assistant with More App Smarts
Google today announced a comprehensive update to the Google Assistant. Most of the changes are meant for developers, but everyone will benefit from Assistant's improved ability to interact with third-party applications. To start, Assistant will help people find apps in a more seamless and natural way. For example, updates to the app directory will surface trending sections that change over time. New subcategories are on deck, as well, which will break down directories to provide more fine-tuned results. Google says it is able to do this by using the description developers provide for their apps and keyboard match that text with spoken voice queries made by end users. Finding apps will be aided by implicit discovery, as well, or the ability to connect with an app using contextual queries, such as "fix my bike." Developers will have access to badges that call out family-friendly apps, as well as expanded international support thanks to the addition of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Other changes target how apps use Assistant to interact directly with people, such as transferring phone calls from the Google Home to a smartphone. Apps will have new powers for handling the end of conversations, such as providing polite or informative farewells, cancelling requests, and finding the right time to suggest account linking. Last, Google wants to ensure developers and their Assistant-powered apps are engaging with users. Moving forward, apps will be able to provide daily updates, gentle suggestions, and push notifications (thanks to a new API.) For example, Google says developers will be able to send alerts via Assistant about upcoming sales or discounts to those who've expressed interest. Google is encouraging developers to put these new tools to use within their Assistant-connected apps. Google hopes the end result will be more useful and informative apps for end users that are discovered and accessed via Google Assistant.
Google's Voice Assistant Now Works with Some Chat Apps
Google today extended the voice capabilities of its Google Search app by allowing it to interact with third-party messaging apps. People can now issue commands such as "Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message" to initiate and dictate messages in a handful of popular messaging apps.
Google Spreading Assistant to More Speakers and Smart Home Appliances
Google today said the Google Assistant will soon be available across a wider variety of devices. Google Assistant, the voice-powered helper, is already available on Android smartphones and smartwatches, and the Google Home speaker.
Google Assistant Can Now Find Your Phone, Call from Your Mobile Number
Google today said its Home-based Google Assistant product can easily find your Android or iOS smartphone. Home owners need only say, "OK Google, find my phone." The Assistant will ring Android phones, or send a call to iPhones, even when the phone is in silent mode.
Google Opens Up Assistant and Home to 3rd-Party Apps
Google today made the necessary tools available that will let other companies build apps for Google Assistant and Google Home. The developer platform for Google Assistant is called Actions on Google.
Devs Gain Access to Even More Google Assistant Functions
Google today updated the Google Assistant SDK for developers and in so doing expanded the number of things developers can do with the voice-based assistant. To start, Assistant is now available in more languages and locales, including English (Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.), French (Canada, France), German, and Japanese.