Multiple Ways to Build for Google Assistant
by Modev Staff Writers on August 6, 2021
Jessica Dene Earley-Cha is a developer advocate for Google Assistant. She joined us at VOICE Global 2021 to present some of the new functionality supported by Google Assistant that developers can leverage to create rich voice experiences across a wide variety of devices.
Google Assistant is available in more than 19 languages and over 80 countries through smart displays, Android and Apple smartphones, various speakers, and more. But developers need to be aware and take advantage of the built-in assets Google Assistant supports, which can be used in Google's Actions Console, to create practical and immersive voice-based experiences.
There are indeed many different ways to build for Google Assistant, and Jessica provides many insights into the tools available to developers and how to use them.
Here's a brief overview of some tips she shared to get started in building for Google Assistant:
Actions Builder is a web-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that's fully integrated into the Actions Console. It only has one window to build your actions, allowing you to design your conversation flows visually. It also provides natural language understanding (NLU) to process your user's input.
Content actions provide a way to optimize your website's resources and make them accessible through Google Assistant voice commands. Using schemas, you can have Google Assistant ingest the data to be served, making it available upon vocal request. This is akin to how you can embed Google search on a web page and serve local content, but using voice.
"These data types usually fall in the buckets of FAQs, how-to guides, news, podcasts, and recipes. All you have to do is add that structured data markup (schema.org) to make your content available in a richer way on search, which will also deliver that content on Google Assistant."
App actions extend the functionality of Android apps to use voice. So instead of finding the app icon on their phones, launching the app, and tapping and scrolling to get to where they want to be, users can instead speak naturally using voice commands to launch and interact with the app without having to touch the screen. Examples could be ordering a meal, starting a workout session, etc., using nothing but voice.
"App actions allow Android developers to use the Assistant to fast forward users to a specific spot in the app of their choice, using just their voice, which is great."
Built-in intents are pre-packaged functionalities that will be accessible to the user. As developers build their apps with Google Assistant capabilities, they can drop in built-in intents instead of coding them by hand. For example, if an app provides the functionality of making online purchases, the developer could use Google's actions.intent.order_menu_item built-in intent.
"Built-in intents allow developers to let Google know that your app has these functionalities, like ordering food or starting an exercise session, and gives Google a means to hook into these actions."
Smart Home integration implies hardware and properties. These are represented as types and traits, respectively. Types refer to the kinds of hardware, so windows, lights, thermostats, etc. And traits are the properties that hardware can have. So, if we take lights as an example, your lights' traits could be on, off, 50% dimmed, etc.
"Smart Home is all about integrating with hardware. Google's Smart Home integration provides you with a home graph, which is aware of the state and capabilities of all the connected devices. So through Smart Home, users can ask things like, dim the lights a little, and it'll know what to do intelligently."
This is only a shortlist of some of the topics Jessica discusses. The complete presentation is full of tips and tricks that are sure to assist and inspire voice developers.
Missed VOICE Global live? Watch Jessica Dene Earley-Cha present original ways to build for Google Assistant and provide valuable tips and tricks that voice developers can use at VOICE Global on-demand here. View the VOICE Global speaker lineup to see what other engaging speakers joined us across various industries.