March 17, 2018

Google Allowing Third-Parties to Build Custom Commands for Assistant

11 March 2018, 01:48 | Megan Pierce

Google Assistant gets slew of new features, better 3rd party integration

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

The code details how you'll create a new hotword and teach Google Assistant to recognise it. Google also notes that the original "Hey Google" and "OK Google" will still work, even if you add another option. Called "Custom Device Actions", OEMs will be able to add custom commands for their devices.

However, when you do need to give the voice assistant instructions very specific to the device or app it will be talking to, it more often than not ends up depending on two things: One, the third-party would have to have included support for the existing plugin-esque "Actions" approach Google has taken to tackle these specifics, and two, you would have to instruct Google Assistant explicitly to talk to a certain product. In order to encourage the usage, the new feature aims to add more functionality on such speciality devices.

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Actions that are connected to Android apps also have new Assistant features en route. While on its own the Google Assistant isn't there just yet, with some creative makers and developers, it's well on its way. This allows for more audio experiences like "longer meditation sessions, relaxing sounds, clips from your favorite TV shows and news briefings". Voice commands can be used to pause or replay media, and a media player will appear on your phone.

On smart speakers, users will be able to control audio playback verbally, while Android devices gain standard media controls in the notification drawer and lock screen. TV shows like The Daily Show will have segments available for playback and general show information. You'll be able to subscribe to notifications from Actions. There aren't many examples of hardware with built-in Assistant yet, but developers will be able to include custom commands in them going forward. 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". Esquire and Forbes are a few websites taking advantage of this new ability. For example, if a washer has a specific color cycle, you could activate that cycle simply by asking the Google Assistant. Today, in preparation for their big presence at SXSW, Google is announcing even more updates.

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