Google Assistant gets slew of new features, better 3rd party integration

Google Assistant-enabled devices add custom commands as Actions gain notifications, playback controls

Working with Google to add Google Assistant voice command recognition to their system was possible before; it's just that now, with this new feature, it's a whole lot easier.

These will be two of several oddities available for users perusal at SXSW where Google will have a "Google Assistant Fun House" ready to roll.

Google today introduced a series of new features for its Actions on Google platform for third-party voice apps, including a new browsing carousel to showcase content and greater control over the kind of audio an action can play. Custom Device Actions are way to add specific functions to products. Furthermore, Actions will now support media playback on speakers and Android phones.

Actions on Google is essentially meant for developers to build integrations for Google's voice assistant. 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. New features like TV show clips, relaxation sounds, news briefings, interactive stories, and more will be available.

Assistant will now also be able to show you information in a carousel like view within the Assistant panel. Today, in preparation for their big presence at SXSW, Google is announcing even more updates. There aren't many examples of hardware with built-in Assistant yet, but developers will be able to include custom commands in them going forward. Voice commands can be used to pause or replay media, and a media player will appear on your phone. The new support allows Actions to send alerts like "newly added workout, a change in a stock price, or a news alert, right when it happens". For example, if a washer has a specific color cycle, you could activate that cycle simply by asking the Google Assistant. Esquire and Forbes are a few websites taking advantage of this new ability.

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