Google Home Third Party Actions Coming Soon

From the moment Google Home was announced, we were told that the service powering it would be open to third party developers.  The idea is to let companies outside of Google add capability to this incredible voice assistant.   Examples might include ordering pizza, getting an Uber, connecting to a travel booking site, supporting new home automation or streaming music from a new site.  Google has recently provided an update to the status of the their third party developer extension program.

Amazon Echo Alexa has had third party skills since June of 2015 and Apple added SiriKit extensions with the release of iOS 10 in November of 016.

Actions

Beginning now, Google Assistant developers can write Conversation Actions for Google Home.  These  let third party developers engage users to deliver services.  There is no store in which the user must enable the Action first. 

Google has made the appropriate libraries and documentation available to developers, but are only taking requests to actually publish the skills.  The ability to publish these Actoins will be available next year.

Samples

There are two samples that Google has made available to all users. You can use these.

  • Say "Ok Google, talk to Number Genie" will bring up a simple game to guess a number between 1 and 100. 
  • Say "Ok Google, talk to Eliza", brings up the famous artificial assistant therapist which was first created in the 1960's for mainframe computers.  It is as good as any I have used, including the first I came acros on a TRS-80 Model I (that one cost $14.95 in 1979).  This Google One is free!

Interestingly enough, when you use either of these Actions, the system take on a completely different voice.  Number Genie uses a U.S. English speaking masculine voice and Eliza uses a U.S. English speaking feminine voice which is different from the standard Google Home voice.

Limitations

Although Google Assistant is available on the Pixel phone and through the Allo chat app (iOS and Android), this ability to create third party Actions only applies to Google Home.  It will come to the others in the future. Google specifically mentions that purchasing and booking are coming in the future as well (meaning they are not available now).

Developer Story

Conversation Actions are server based, so they work in the cloud. The developer must write the code and define the voice intents required for the conversation.  For technology, Google focuses on JavaScript with Node.JS.  There is a Web Simulator which lets you test out your actions and hear responses.  Google has also partnered with a couple of other companies to create their SDK.  

Several Samples are available to get developers started, including Number Genie, Eliza, Name Psychic and Facts about Google.

This is very exciting to have access to this.  I can't wait to see what types of extensions can be created and how they will impact this device.  

 

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