Google's voice-based assistant took on new powers this week and increased its compatibility with hardware platforms -- including Apple's iPhone. With Assistant's growing user base and expanded skillset, Google thinks it's time for developers to add Assistant to their own hardware.
Google Assistant, now a year old, feels more complete thanks to new actions added by Google. The conversational tool can perform a handful of tasks not previously available. More importantly, Google is making it possible for developers to add Assistant to their own creations.
The refreshed Google Assistant SDK brings with it Actions on Google and the new Actions Console. With the SDK, developers can add hotword detection, voice control, and natural language understanding to their apps and devices. Right now, Google suggests developers tinker with the Raspberry Pi 3, as it plans to expand availability of the Google Assistant SDK to commercial device makers later this year. Google says the updated console will let developers collect data on app usage and performance, and analyze user discovery platforms. It is integrated with Firebase and Google Cloud. Documentation includes sample code and detailed instructions.
What are the new Actions on Google Assistant? One of the most glaring omissions in Google Assistant, particularly on Google Home, is its inability to schedule calendar appointments and create reminders. Google Home owners can now ask their in-home speaker to handle these tasks. Speaking of homes, Google Assistant has improved its compatibility with internet-of-things devices to more than 70 partners, including August locks, TP-Link, Honeywell, Logitech, and LG.
Other tools headed to Google Home include the ability to make phone calls to mobile and landline numbers, as well as to connect more music and video services to the device. For example, Home now works with Spotify, Soundcloud, and Deezer, as well as HBO Now, CBS All Access, and HGTV. People who choose to connect their Google Home to their television set will appreciate the new on-screen visual responses that appear from the Assistant on the big screen in their living room.
Google's new developer tools will also let app writers create the conversational apps that work best with Google Assistant. This means people can ask Google for answers, but also tap into third-party services for information. Make sure your third-party app is one of those compatible with the new version of Google Assistant.
Let's not forget the latest expansion of Google Assistant, which reached the iPhone this week. That's hundreds of millions more potential target customers. Google Assistant is expanding to Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan, as well, as Google makes Google Home available on those countries. It's time to make your apps and hardware smarter, more responsive, and conversational.