Google Assistant is getting more versatile, with new features being announced at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.
In a blog post, Group Product Manager, Brad Abrams & Product Manager Chris Ramsdale outlined new features coming to Assistant which includes Subscriptions, better Media Playback controls and the ability for OEMs to add custom commands to their devices.
Subscriptions have been quite a useful inclusion in Assistant, and now they’re expanding to third parties. Using a subscription, users will be able to subscribe to a piece of information from a third-party like Esquire or Speedybit, to receive updates on things like the price of Bitcoin or value of a stock, or even the weather.
The Media Playback controls will enable content creators to allow access to a range of new media beyond the podcasts and music controls we’ve seen previously with support for ‘TV shows, interactive stories, meditation, relaxing sounds, and news briefings’ being added. Controls will then be accessible from the Assistant, as well as the lock-screen and the notification panel.
Assistant will now also be able to show you information in a carousel like view within the Assistant panel. The Carousel will look exactly like one you’d see if you’d performed a mobile search. It’s a wonder that this, like many other features being added to Assistant, wasn’t baked in from the get-go.
Google is also adding in updated payment options for developers to tie into, with Assistant able to recognise that you have a paid for subscription in say Google Play and tie that to a command given in Assistant.
Finally, here’s a big one, OEMs will now be able to add custom Assistant commands to their devices. Called ‘Custom Device Actions’, OEMs will be able to add custom commands for their devices. Previously Google has maintained grammar and structure for commands, but under this new feature, Google will allow developers to specify any grammar and command to be executed by their device; this means commands like ‘set the oven to 180-degrees’ or ‘put the washing machine on a delicate wash’ can be added.
Google has opened up a ‘Fun House’ in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest where they’re presumably showing off all these cool new features, so if you’re in the area head over and check them out.