Developers
July 13, 2020

Google Unveils Development Tools For Google Assistant

Google has announced new tools to help developers use and extend Google Assistant.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) virtual assistants have become an important market and have helped further the development of AI. According to Grand View Research, the virtual assistant market was worth some $3.7 billion in 2019, boasting a CAGR growth rate of 34%.

Originally introduced in 2016, Google Assistant is an AI virtual assistant that comprises a significant part of that market. Google originally rolled out Assistant as part of Google Home speaker, as well as Google’s Allo messaging client. While Google eventually discontinued Allo, Assistant has grown beyond its original deployment.

Google started including Assistant on its line of Pixel smartphones, before making it available to other Android device makers. At the time of writing, Assistant is available on a variety of Android devices, including Google’s Wear OS devices. All told, Assistant is available on more than a billion devices and used by some 500 million users per month.

Google Assistant SDK

One of the factors that have lead to Google Assistant’s success is Google’s software development kit (SDK).

By opening the platform up to developers, Google paved the way for Assistant to grow and expand. With the SDK, developers can build applications and games for Google Assistant.

The SDK also paves the way for third-party companies to integrate Assistant with their own hardware. This has enabled Assistant to run on automobiles, Raspberry Pi computers, smart home appliances and more.

Actions Builder and Actions SDK

Google recently announced a major upgrade to its development tools for Assistant: Actions Builder and Actions SDK. The goal was to provide an integrated platform for extending Google Assistant, a platform that would negate the need to jump back-and-forth between the Actions Console and Dialogflow.

Actions Builder is a web-based IDE that provides a graphic interface to develop and manage Actions, or voice-activated apps. Actions Builder provides a way to see the entire conversation flow, as well as manage the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) training data. Combined, this lets developers create, debug, deploy and analyze Actions.

For developers that want to get ‘under the hood’ a bit more, Google has released an updated Actions SDK. The new SDK will allow developers to use a local IDE to work with actions, as well as provide a file-based representation of the action. The SDK even comes with a command-line interface (CLI), giving developers the ability to control the process completely in code.

One of the biggest challenges with voice systems is providing adequate training data. With the SDK, developers have a way to import and export training data in bulk.

Best of all, the two methods work together, providing a seamless experience, one of the main goals of the development team.

“Together, Actions Builder and Actions SDK create a seamless, consolidated development experience,” writes the Assistant Developer Platform team. “No matter what tool you start with, you can switch between them based on what works best for your workflow. For example, you can use Actions Builder to lay out conversational flows and provide NLU training data, Actions SDK to write fulfillment code, and the CLI to synchronize the two. These tools create an environment where all team members can contribute effectively and focus on what they do best: design and code.”

Media APIs

Google has also significantly upgraded its Media APIs, which will improve long-form media sessions. This is especially important for creating more natural conversations, as opposed to the back-and-forth micro-conversations that frequently occur with voice assistants.

“Sometimes you want to build experiences that enable users to speak more naturally with your action, without waiting for a change in mic states,” writes Payam Shodjai, Director of Product Management, Google Assistant. “Rolling out in the next few months, Continuous Match Mode allows Assistant to respond immediately to a user’s speech for more fluid experiences by recognizing defined words and phrases set by you. This is done transparently so that before the mic opens, Assistant will announce the mic will stay open temporarily so users know they can speak freely without waiting for additional prompts. For example, CoolGames is launching a game in a few weeks called, “Guess The Drawing” that uses Continuous Match Mode to allow the user to continuously guess what the drawing is until they get it right. The game is also built with Interactive Canvas for a more visual and immersive experience on smart displays.”

The Future of Google Assistant

Taken together, these are significant changes that will help further Google Assistant development, both on the hardware and software levels. Already in use by some 500 million people monthly, these updates will result in more natural conversations and improved interaction across the entire lineup of Google Assistant-powered devices.

TagsGoogle AssistantAI Virtual AssistantGoogle Allo
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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DevelopersJuly 13, 2020
Google Unveils Development Tools For Google Assistant
Google has announced new tools to help developers use and extend Google Assistant.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) virtual assistants have become an important market and have helped further the development of AI. According to Grand View Research, the virtual assistant market was worth some $3.7 billion in 2019, boasting a CAGR growth rate of 34%.

Originally introduced in 2016, Google Assistant is an AI virtual assistant that comprises a significant part of that market. Google originally rolled out Assistant as part of Google Home speaker, as well as Google’s Allo messaging client. While Google eventually discontinued Allo, Assistant has grown beyond its original deployment.

Google started including Assistant on its line of Pixel smartphones, before making it available to other Android device makers. At the time of writing, Assistant is available on a variety of Android devices, including Google’s Wear OS devices. All told, Assistant is available on more than a billion devices and used by some 500 million users per month.

Google Assistant SDK

One of the factors that have lead to Google Assistant’s success is Google’s software development kit (SDK).

By opening the platform up to developers, Google paved the way for Assistant to grow and expand. With the SDK, developers can build applications and games for Google Assistant.

The SDK also paves the way for third-party companies to integrate Assistant with their own hardware. This has enabled Assistant to run on automobiles, Raspberry Pi computers, smart home appliances and more.

Actions Builder and Actions SDK

Google recently announced a major upgrade to its development tools for Assistant: Actions Builder and Actions SDK. The goal was to provide an integrated platform for extending Google Assistant, a platform that would negate the need to jump back-and-forth between the Actions Console and Dialogflow.

Actions Builder is a web-based IDE that provides a graphic interface to develop and manage Actions, or voice-activated apps. Actions Builder provides a way to see the entire conversation flow, as well as manage the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) training data. Combined, this lets developers create, debug, deploy and analyze Actions.

For developers that want to get ‘under the hood’ a bit more, Google has released an updated Actions SDK. The new SDK will allow developers to use a local IDE to work with actions, as well as provide a file-based representation of the action. The SDK even comes with a command-line interface (CLI), giving developers the ability to control the process completely in code.

One of the biggest challenges with voice systems is providing adequate training data. With the SDK, developers have a way to import and export training data in bulk.

Best of all, the two methods work together, providing a seamless experience, one of the main goals of the development team.

“Together, Actions Builder and Actions SDK create a seamless, consolidated development experience,” writes the Assistant Developer Platform team. “No matter what tool you start with, you can switch between them based on what works best for your workflow. For example, you can use Actions Builder to lay out conversational flows and provide NLU training data, Actions SDK to write fulfillment code, and the CLI to synchronize the two. These tools create an environment where all team members can contribute effectively and focus on what they do best: design and code.”

Media APIs

Google has also significantly upgraded its Media APIs, which will improve long-form media sessions. This is especially important for creating more natural conversations, as opposed to the back-and-forth micro-conversations that frequently occur with voice assistants.

“Sometimes you want to build experiences that enable users to speak more naturally with your action, without waiting for a change in mic states,” writes Payam Shodjai, Director of Product Management, Google Assistant. “Rolling out in the next few months, Continuous Match Mode allows Assistant to respond immediately to a user’s speech for more fluid experiences by recognizing defined words and phrases set by you. This is done transparently so that before the mic opens, Assistant will announce the mic will stay open temporarily so users know they can speak freely without waiting for additional prompts. For example, CoolGames is launching a game in a few weeks called, “Guess The Drawing” that uses Continuous Match Mode to allow the user to continuously guess what the drawing is until they get it right. The game is also built with Interactive Canvas for a more visual and immersive experience on smart displays.”

The Future of Google Assistant

Taken together, these are significant changes that will help further Google Assistant development, both on the hardware and software levels. Already in use by some 500 million people monthly, these updates will result in more natural conversations and improved interaction across the entire lineup of Google Assistant-powered devices.

Google Assistant
AI Virtual Assistant
Google Allo
About the author
Matt Milano -Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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