Google Developers is rolling out a huge update to Actions on Google, the backbone through which developers can create those Assistant apps and integrations that are still a little hidden but can be very useful if you interact with your Home or phone a lot through voice. Both developers and users stand to benefit from these changes as there are a lot of improvements that will add up quickly for a better experience.

First, in terms of discovery, the Assistant's Explore tab / "app directory" will see two new sections for "What's new" and "What's trending." Now there's only a list of categories, which makes it impossible to spot popular services or new additions. When the change goes live, it should help us all find those easier. The categories will also be organized with more granularity thanks to automatically applied sub-categories. Plus, apps that are appropriate for children will have a "For Families" badge next to them. One more cool change developers can work on is implicit invocation where users will be taken to the app without explicitly naming it, ie without saying "talk to service x," based on certain keywords or keyphrases that the developer has connected to their app.

Second, Assistant apps can now be developed in more languages, so devs can target more locales and let users speak to their apps in those languages:

  • Canadian English = en-CA (read more), though it'll answer back in US-English it seems
  • Indian English = en-IN (read more)
  • Spanish = es-ES
  • Spanish = es-419 (for Latin America and the Caribbean)
  • Italian = it-IT
  • Brazilian Portuguese = pt-BR

Third, Assistant apps now have a bit more capabilities. They can send information back to your phone, in case you were talking to a speaker and need more visual info (a map) or to continue an action on a display (authorize payments, shown in the image at the top of the post). They can remember select info about you and personalize the experience to your preferences. And they can send you daily updates and push notifications, if you specifically ask them to do so.

There are several other improvements, changes, and new capabilities in the Actions on Google API, so I suggest you check out the source below if you're a developer with an app already published or looking to work on your first one.