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Your Google Assistant is about to get smarter thanks to Actions on Google

Google has opened up the Actions on Google program today, and developers can now start building their own tools and conversational bots for Google Home.

First seen at Google I/O 2016, the Actions SDK brings everything developers need to integrate their services into Google Assistant the same way Pandora or Google Cast is. Once implemented — there is nothing to install and all the integration with services is done through Google's cloud servers — we can tell Google Home that we want to talk to or about a service and the new conversations are ready to take what we say and provide the appropriate response.

Google's Wayne Piekarski walks through a demo using a service they built called "Personal Chef" in the video below. (This will trigger your Pixel or Google Home. Several times.)

Note: The demonstration starts at 1:25

For developers: Google's Conversation Actions web documentation pages are where you'll get started building your services into Google Assistant. You can choose to transcribe and decipher a user's words yourself using the conversation API to process input and use the Actions SDK to process and build actions as intents.If you'd rather not process transcribed speech yourself, you can use api.ai which can build out the workflow of a conversation using Conversation Actions. Google also has integrated Gupshup to help build, test and deploy conversational bots and actions on Google Home.

For users: All of this is handled by the folks who built a service and there's nothing to install. You'll be able to tell Google Home you need a thing or want to talk to/about a thing and Assistant will automatically handoff to the correct service the same way things are done now when you tell Google to play a song or cast a video. Seamless integration is what makes Assistant seem "smart".

For now, the service is only available for Google Home but Google plans to bring Actions to Assistant on the Pixel and in Allo in the future. Google also is working on enabling support for purchases and bookings, and developers who are interested in creating actions using these upcoming features can register for the early access partner program.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

19 Comments
  • Ask Google when it will work with G Suite, you know, their PAYING customers.
  • I assume they want it pretty stable before paying customers see it, but there should be an opt in mechanism.
  • Dear Google, can you please just start with these 3 things: - ability to add Google Calendar appts
    - ability to add reminders
    - Google Keep integration I don't need a chef assistant when I can't even add an appt to my calendar.
  • And sleep timer
  • What's a sleep timer? Set a timer or alarm? I'm confused.
  • It would be to be able to say, Hey Google, play music... for 60 minutes. When I say that note, it tries to play a playlist that has the word sixty, or minutes in the title or description.
  • It seems it's a matter of security and/or user authentication, and I get that, nobody wants pranksters and family members messing with your calendar and notes... While they figure that out I'd welcome two potential workarounds: The more band-aid-like of the two would be to simply enable tighter integration with personal account data like this and have it disabled by default, with a warning about potential abuse when enabling it. That'd be quick and easy IMO and would satisfy those of us who live alone and aren't too worried about the whole thing. The other potential workaround, if they can't figure out how to identify users pretty soon, would be to at least have a bypass mode where commands can be handed off to a phone/watch instead. We already sorta have this in the mute button, so just give me a way to toggle that remotely, so I don't have to walk over to the Home unit. I'm not too worried about it all myself because my Home currently resides in my bedroom/office, so either I'm sitting at the computer or the phone is right besides me. I'm still gonna get plenty of use out of it for other tasks... I'm definitely not buying extra Homes for around the house until they've figured this out tho, this is precisely the kinda functionality I'd want in other rooms.
  • I agree with you on getting the security and user authentication worked out properly. It would be nice to get voice-print identification, but I suspect that's a long way from being reliable. I think you're right about the workarounds--particularly the first one for people who aren't concerned about accessing multiple accounts. Perhaps the next version of Google Home could have a fingerprint sensor that's able to recognize multiple users. Building on this, I'd love to see the ability to take phone calls and text messages over WIFI. It would be great to answer/place calls and send/respond to text messages using Google Home as a speakerphone. I guess I really just want Android Auto on Google Home.
  • Android Auto on Google Home = yes, this!
  • i may be misunderstanding but im 99% sure you can add calendar appts by just saying ok google add calendar event same as a reminder.
  • Yes, problem is, one needs to do some research and learn the lingo. Google could do a better job of explaining how to use some of their services.
  • Maybe using WiFi direct Google could activate those more sensitive options for calenders and things Iike that. Once the phone leaves or breaks the connection, those features are disabled. For voice recognition you need a login process, sampling the users voice.
  • Hey google set a reminder...
    ....
  • doesnt work.....yet
  • Doesn't work....yet
  • Remember how both the Chromecast and the Echo didn't do much at first? Those two products are why I think I would like a Google Home now. I love experiencing a solid product idea evolve. ...waiting for Jarvis...
  • "I have some chicken and also some cancer matos." You have what, Wayne?
  • Playing with the Node SDK and it is amazingly fun... Sky really is the limit if you host services yourself
  • I hope we can use the voice of Chef from southpark!