Google gives developers new features, languages for Assistant

Among other things, developers can now build user experiences that start on Google's voice-activated assistant and move to a user's phone.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Google on Wednesday announced a series of updates and new features for developers building services for Google Assistant.

Developers can now use the voice-activated assistant to reach users in more languages and interact with users in more ways. There are also new features that make it easier to engage with users and help them find apps available on Assistant.

Specifically, Actions on Google, the developer platform for the Google Assistant, now lets developers build apps in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English. In the UK, developers can add transactional capabilities to their apps.

The new "interactive" features include a speaker-to-phone transfer API. This lets developers create experiences that start with Google Assistant and move to a user's phone. In the below example, a user starts placing a pick-up order from the restaurant Panera with Assistant via the Google Home device and finishes the transaction on their phone.


Other new features include enabling more "personalized" experiences by saving user preferences, as well as the ability to supplement Assistant conversations with background music or ambient sound.

To help users find apps, Google is improving its app directory within the mobile Assistant experience, in part by adding new subcategories. They're also adding "implicit discovery" so that users can connect to an Assistant app with contextual commands that don't necessarily include the name of the app.

To keep users engaged, Google is adding features such as a push notification API that sends alerts on a user's phone. Later, they'll extend to voice-activated speakers like Google Home.

While Amazon's Alexa is still the dominant voice-activated assistant, businesses are ready to invest in conversational platforms in the coming year. Meanwhile, a growing list of retailers have partnered with Google's voice-activated shopping platform.

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