Google is ready to step up the fight with Amazon’s Alexa, announcing that it’s opening the doors for developers to start bringing their applications and services to its Google Home speaker. These integrations will be done through what the company touts as "conversation actions”, and won’t require the user to enable a certain skill or install an app. Instead, Google itself is going to approve all the keywords that developers want to use to invoke their actions and make them all available to everybody.
The reason it works this way is because whenever you request a third-party action, for example an Uber ride, Google won’t see you through the end of your request but rather connect you with a conversational bot from said service. The company has teamed up with a number of partners, including API.AI, GupShup, DashBot and VoiceLabs, Assist, Notify.IO, Witlingo and Spoken Layer to help companies craft these bots.
Since actions will be curated by Google, developers will need to adhere to app store-like policies, which will prohibit things like keyword camping — using a rival company’s name to invoke another service’s actions — and anything that falls outside of “general policies around acceptable behavior.” Google plans to share more about this early next year along along with details on how it will handle discoverability and promotion — i.e. how will users even know what actions are available.
The company says it will continue to add more platform capabilities over time, including the ability to make integrations available across the various Assistant surfaces beyond Home, like Pixel phones and Google Allo. It will also enable more complicated actions like buying and booking stuff in upcoming releases.