Back when Google first launched the Google Assistant at the made by Google event they promised an “actions” platform that would allow developers to integrate into Assistant. Today Google has taken the wraps of the first component of that “Conversations Actions for Google Home”.
This is exactly what it sounds like, developers can now apply to start developing Actions that will enable users with Google Home to interact via a conversational interface. Google is touting the lack of having to install an app or Skill (shots fired Alexa) rather users simply have to 1. know a service exists and 2. utter the phrase “ok Google, Talk to XXX”.
This will then kick off that service that will hopefully intuitively guide you through that service. Of course the two big barriers to entry here are 1. knowing a service exists, and 2 knowing the name to summon it by, not huge issues but hopefully Google will build in some sort of smart index that allows users to conversationally access filtered lists of services, something like “Hey Google, I want to talk to someone about movies” and it provides a list of relevant local moves Actions?
Check out Google’s video on the Google Assistant Actions.
This is just the first stage of Actions, Google also announced the impending ‘Actions for Pixel and Allo’ and ‘Support for Purchases and Bookings’. With Assistant currently residing inside the Google Home, Google Pixel and Allo, we obviously want to see Actions expand beyond the Home into the text based apps as well. While not launching today developers will also be able to get early access to those systems as well.
A helpful or entertaining conversation is great but what about getting things done, with the future inclusion of bookings and purchases Google is expanding the actual usability of the Assistant. If Amazons Alexa taught us anything it’s that these integrations are slow.
The problem for Google is in a world where Alexa now exists the expectations of Google’s platform to be equal out of the gate is unreasonable. The tech community at large has to accept Alexa has a commanding lead, and depending on Amazon’s focus may in fact keep it.
Google’s next big challenge is to attract good developers and service onto the Assistant platform so there are actions people want to interact with. It’s an exciting time and with 2 Google Homes on their way to my door this morning I can’t wait to see what’s next.