Google Assistant Introduces Quality of Life Developer Updates

Google’s smart assistant is getting smarter.

The technology giant announced several upgrades to the Google Assistant today targeted towards developers, making it easier for users to find, interact and re-engage with apps.

The biggest upgrade comes in the form of new languages available for building apps. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Indian English are now supported, meaning speakers of those languages can access and find apps even easier.

Updates to the app directory have also been made, as a “what’s new” and “what’s trending” section were added to the Assistant experience on a mobile phone.

“These dynamic sections will constantly change and evolve, creating more opportunities for your app to be discovered by users in all supported locales where the Google Assistant and Actions on Google are available,” writes Brad Abrams, product manager for Google Assistant in a blog post.

There are new subcategories as well, breaking down apps into more specific groupings. For example, clicking on “Food & Drink” will result in selections like “Order Food” and “View a Menu.” The updated labeling will improve discovery for a developer’s app, surfacing in any relevant subcategory a user may search.

Badges for family-friendly apps and improved implicit discovery is also new. The latter refers to when a user becomes connected to an app through contextual queries rather than name—for example, saying “book an appointment to fix my bike” rather than “open the BikeFix app.”

Google is rolling out an API for cross-device functionality as well. Developers can design an experience that begins with a Google Home which is then passed off on to someone’s phone. Maybe someone needs a request a map then send it over to the phone to get somewhere quicklyGoogle wants to make this seamless.

google assistant
Transferring a request from a Google Home to a phone.

There are a few more updates, including the ability to leave a message when someone cancels an event and a new SSML audio design experience. Push notifications, directory analytics and daily updates made the list too.

These updates all come at a time when Google is trying to up its virtual assistant game and break the hold Amazon has with its Alexa products. The upgrades are a good start but Google will have to continue to fight in order to keep up with Amazon.