Google Assistant Unveils New ‘Capabilities’ and ‘Widgets’ for Developers at Google I/O
Google I/O this year didn’t spend much time on Google Assistant as a stand-alone product, but that doesn’t mean it was never mentioned. Google did manage to highlight a few intriguing new features for the voice assistant’s users and developers. The new tools, some of which have yet to deploy, are largely centered around Android 12, the real center of Google I/O this year.
Much of the improvements for developers focused on making it easier to add Google Assistant Actions to Android apps and improve their functionality. For instance, a new API called Capabilities lets developers support more frequently invoked tasks by defining the intent using a catalog compiled by Google. Once in place, users can activate an Android app by voice and have it immediately dive into a particular activity. So, someone with the Snapchat app on Android could ask Google Assistant to send a pic with a defined filter, and the app would open, pull up the filter, take a picture, and send it along all in one go.
Google also made it easier to set up and run shortcuts on Android in a few ways. The new Google Shortcuts Integration library picks out shortcuts from the Shortcuts Jetpack Module and sets them up for voice commands sent by Google Assistant. The voice assistant can then link to them as potential options for shortcuts to users who haven’t decided on which apps to connect to the shortcuts. That’s in addition to a new tool that streamlines setup for developers.
“App shortcuts are already a popular way to automate most common tasks on Android. Thanks to the new APIs for Shortcuts in Android 12, it’s now easier to find all the Assistant queries that are supported with apps,” Google Assistant developer platform director of product Rebecca Nathenson explained in a blog post. ” If you build an Android Shortcut, it will automatically show up in the Assistant Shortcuts gallery, so users can choose to set up a personal voice command in your app, when they say “Hey Google, shortcuts.” Google Assistant can also suggest relevant shortcuts to help drive traffic to your app. For example, when using the eBay app, people will see a suggested Google Assistant Shortcut appear on the screen and have the option to create a shortcut for “show my bids.””