Google Cast was rebranded back in October, and now it’s getting a new set of contributors, too. A couple months after being renamed Google Home, the company’s digital assistant (the firm’s answer to, say, Amazon’s Alexa), is opening its doors to developers. On December 8, Google debuted its Actions on Google website.
“The Google Assistant brings together all of the technology and smarts we’ve been building for years, from the Knowledge Graph to Natural Language Processing,” Google said in their Thursday blog post announcement. However, the company continued, true success would be contingent on the ability “to connect users across the apps and services in their lives. This makes enabling an ecosystem where developers can bring diverse and unique services to users through the Google Assistant really important.”
That’s why Google now allows developers to build Conversation Actions for Google Home. And eager developers can also ask to become early access partners for upcoming platform features.
Two of the first to take advantage of the platform were Netflix and Google Photos, who debuted their new action. As Android Police reported, you can find a new “Videos and Photos” section in the Assistant settings of your Google Home app. From here, you can link your Netflix account and either enable or disable a Photos integration.
And just a few days later, a whole host of other companies and services jumped on the bandwagon, including Domino’s Pizza, Product Hunt, Todoist, and NPR. In fact, more than 30 companies launched actions for Google Home on December 16, which will allow users to order food, cross items off their digital agenda, and get updates on news.
The large-scale rollout marks the largest in Google Home’s history (it’s only been around since October), and brings the total number of third-party conversations actions to 35, the vast majority of which (32 to be exact), were launched on Friday.
“Conversation Actions from early access partners will begin rolling out over the coming weeks — starting today. We’re excited to see what developers build,” Google Assistant product lead Jason Douglas told VentureBeat in an email.
Unlike Amazon Alexa skills, Google’s Conversation Actions promise to let developers engage their users by way of an actual conversation. There’s no need to enable a skill or install any further software — simply say, “OK Google,” and proceed with the command.
“We’ll continue to add more platform capabilities over time, including the ability to make your integrations available across the various Assistant surfaces like Pixel phones and Google Allo,” Google noted earlier in the week. “We’ll also enable support for purchases and bookings as well as deeper Assistant integrations across verticals.”
Of course, as we mentioned before, it’s important to note that the concept of “casting” isn’t going away. While the Google Cast app has been rebranded, you’ll still use the casting technology to beam information to a device like the Chromecast or a home speaker. For example, you might find that a TV will be “cast-compatible.”
The new blog post, however, certainly signifies a step in Google’s journey toward making the app a real hub for the smart home, perhaps by incorporating other devices that may not be Home compatible, like smart lightbulbs, and by including home automation. In fact, it would be great to see a Google-built alternative to apps like Yonomi, which automates smart home devices.
Article originally published on 12-08-2016. Updated on 12-16-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of 32 additional new actions for Google Home.