Google has opened up Actions on Google, its developer platform for Google Assistant. It can now be used to add Conversation Actions that provide a way to give your users information, services, and assistance.
The Google Assistant is built in to the Pixel phone, and to Google Home, Google's rival to Amazon Echo that combines search, voice recognition, natural language processing. Users activate the Google Assistant by saying "Ok Google” to get answers and help around the house. Google Assistant uses a wide range of Google technology, from the Knowledge Graph to Natural Language Processing.
The new developer platform means you can create applications that interact with the devices - currently only with Google Home, but in the future with Pixel phones and Google Allo.
The actions that have been made available at the moment are Conversation Actions. These can be used to hold a two-way dialog with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request, determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user's request, and how the conversation ends.
Google has worked with a number of companies to provide features for Actions on Google, including conversational interaction development tools API.AI and Gupshup, and analytics tools DashBot and VoiceLabs.
There's a Node.js client library that has an Actions SDK and API.AI variant of the library, and you can use the Web simulator to test out your actions and hear the responses the same way you would on a Google Home device. The tool gives you debugging information to diagnose issues and lets you test your experiences before deploying them.
If you're developing using the SDK, there's a self-updating command line interface that lets you test and deploy your actions to production. The website also has a collection of samples to get you started.
There's also an early adopter program that you can sign up for to be informed as support is added for other platforms.
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