Google Ending Template Actions for Google Assistant Support
Google will end its support for the Template Actions for Google Assistant feature at the end of March next year, according to the documentation website and an email sent to developers. Google will open-source the no-code tools for creating voice apps and remove the actions from its directory, possibly to clear away some of the little-used Google Actions built with the templates.
The Template Actions feature was created by Google as a streamlined system for people who wanted to make a Google Assistant Action but lacked coding skills. It serves as a limited way to test out ideas more than anything else, including personality quizzes, flash cards, and trivia apps. Google also added a template for how-to videos on YouTube last year. The website for those templates and the email to developers now warns that those templates will stop working after March 31, 2021 and users won’t be able to access them or find them in the Google Assistant directory after that time. Google has moved the template for the personalty quiz to GitHub and indicated it will build similar open-source versions of the trivia and flashcards templates. The how-to videos page doesn’t say there will be a GitHub page for that template, so it may not be around once Google’s support ends. We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update when we learn more.
The timing for Google’s announcement is notable as Google is ending its code-free voice app builder while simulatenously beta-testing an enterprise-level version of the Dialogflow natural language understanding (NLU) platform. Google’s explanation for ending supprt for the templates is somewwhat vague, but does point to a demand for more customization.
“While Templates have been a great way to start building Actions for Google Assistant with no coding, we’ve heard from our community of developers that you are looking for more customizatioon options to build higher quality experiences for users,” Google wrote in the email. “Going forward,we will be investing in new tools that offer you that flexibility.”
The decisions could have stemmed from Google’s desire to slim down the Assistant directory, getting rid of all of the unused voice apps designed with the template and making it easier to find more refined creations. It could also be as simple as Google Assistant seeing its future success shifting away from no-code customers. Other voice assistants still offer variations on the template design. Samsung Bixby Templates are supposed to be simple enough that non-software engineers can use them to build voice apps, and Alexa Skill Blueprints are supposed to be even simpler for non-developers to utilize.
“We have already seen no-code solutions come and go in the market,” Voicebot’s Bret Kinsella commented. “As this market shifts (which is occurring now) some will find their best path for success doesn’t align with their no-code customers. No-code can save cost and increase speed, but that comes at the cost of customization limitations and going-concern risk. For many, that trade off is worth it at least in the short-term and I suspect the value of low cost and speed is high enough is worth the risk.”