Google Actions Built With Dialogflow Are Down (Updated)
Update: At 7 p.m. ET, Google posted on IssueTracker that the problem has been resolved.
A growing number of Google Actions developers are reporting that their voice apps have stopped working since Wednesday. The exact reason isn’t clear, but a bug in the Dialogflow platform preventing the Actions from saving contextual information from conversations appears to be to the reason the voice apps are breaking. Though not a catastrophe on the scale of last October when thousands of Actions disappeared for a few days from Google’s directory, Dialogflow’s widespread use could make this bug a major crisis without a fix.
Dialog Not Flowing
“It’s impacted all of our clients’ Google Actions so far,” said John Campbell, managing director at British voice experience agency Rabbit & Pork in an interview with Voicebot. “If fixed quickly it might be the case that many won’t even notice but it’s disappointing to see this happening, and so far no communication from the Actions on Google team on the communities where some of the Google team sometimes post.”
Dialogflow offers a way for developers to build responsive voice and chatbots and is used with mobile apps, websites, and Google Assistant Actions. Not every Google Action uses Dialogflow, so the problem has not been as immediately obvious to users as last year’s disappearances. Still, Google took up the problem on its issue tracker but notably put it as Priority 2, meaning not something that needs immediate solving. After the problem became apparent, open-source voice app framework developer Jovo created a workaround that gets around the issue, but not a permanent solution.
“As a developer, the last thing you want is for your voice app to mysteriously break and for all the world to see,” a Google Actions developer, who requested anonymity, told Voicebot. “It’s different if it was something you did, but quite another if it is the platform itself. That is what appears to have happened with the recent Dialogflow bug. Long-released code suddenly stopped saving user context and session and the actions broke. It’s not the kind of surprise you want. I’m confident Google will have a fix soon, but something to look out for as Google transitions from Dialogflow to the new Actions Builder.”
“Today’s issues with Dialogflow are just the latest in a long line of technical issues that have plagued the Actions on Google platform making it almost impossible to rely on the platform’s core feature set for development,” Tom Hewitson, CEO of voice games developer labworks.io told Voicebot. “Many of these issues have been raised repeatedly to Google by the community with little obvious effect despite their public courting of developers this year. Unfortunately, despite having invested many months of development time into the platform and having internal support, at Labworks we ended up having to deprioritize building for Google Assistant until they can give us confidence in the maturity of their platform.”
We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update as we learn more.