Since the humble beginnings of the Android project to its current form of near-global domination, Google has maintained an open structure for its operating system. Built upon open source roots in its Linux background, Android is among the swath of open source projects on the market and can be freely developed upon by anyone who wishes to do so. This means that developers can modify many parts of Android and utilize it to their benefit, much like Amazon has done with Android on its Fire lineup of devices, all without any benefit to Google in any way, shape or form. This of course leads us to other parts of Android that are more designed to profit Google, and all of them circle back to what made Google in the first place: search.
Google’s latest addition to Android is Google Assistant, a significant enhancement to the functionality users have come to know and love in Google Now. Google Assistant is much more than a way to have a conversation with the AI that now represents the back-end of Google Now’s functionality, it’s now clear that Android’s open nature is also being extended to Assistant and its wide array of functions. Coming in the form of what Google is calling ‘Actions on Google,’ this new set of APIs will be open and allow for any developer to write against it, providing enhanced functionality to apps that have built Google Assistant support into their code base. This of course leads one to wonder how many apps Google Assistant will be able to interface with at launch, especially in products like Google Home, but at the very least it’s clear that Google is trying to implement deeper functions within apps through Google Assistant.
There will be two major types of commands issued via Actions on Google. The first and most familiar is Direct Action, which is very similar to how Google Now currently works. Direct commands like “play a song” or “add an alarm” as users currently perform in Google Now are the most simple way a developer can tie its app into Google Assistant. The second, and far more complex, is a conversational action that requires more conversational-type input because a command is more complex. This is a new way for Google Assistant to query deeper into the questions you ask, finding out more information that might be required for a service or product that you’re looking into using. This new SDK will be available starting in December, but check out the official Google page through the source link below for all the pertinent information.