Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

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

Image Google Blog Image Google Blog
Frank Williams | 10 March, 2018, 15:45

Before, manufacturers were limited to commands built by Google like "turn on", "turn off", and "turn the temperature down" to control different devices. Google is set to make its voice-enabled assistant more flexible as it is letting developers build device-specific commands for it.

The Google Assistant is available across all kinds of devices-from speakers to phones, TVs and more.

Lastly, Google Assistant also now allows you to ask for periodic notifications from apps that support Actions, such as Forbes' "Quote of the Day".

Starting today, users will have access to more media playback on smart speakers and Android phones. Starting today, thanks to a new feature for Actions called Custom Device Actions, device makers can extend the Assistant and add "native" functionality specific to their device. 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.

Image Google Blog
Image Google Blog

If you happen to be in Austin for SXSW, you can visit the Google Assistant Fun House at 1301 E. Cesar Chavez.

Google sometimes stealthily deploys new features here and there in Assistant without telling us, but today's update is a big one with some fanfare. This allows for more audio experiences like "longer meditation sessions, relaxing sounds, clips from your favorite TV shows and news briefings". Additionally, users can now use voice commands to pause or replay media. They will be able to turn off the display and still continue listening to the audio. Developers of Actions do need to add this feature, so not all of them will work out of the gate. Google uses the instance of turning on a connected oven. For example, if a washer has a specific color cycle, you could activate that cycle simply by asking the Google Assistant. 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. "Hey Google" and "OK Google" can be a real mouthful, whether you're me waking up and struggling to get the words out first thing in the morning, or an Italian grandma who can't quite get it right.

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