Remember that "Voice Access" talk that was supposed to happen at I/O but was removed from the schedule? It turns out that, while it wasn't the full-on in-app voice craziness we had hoped for, Google did have some news about voice interactions to share.
Specifically, with Android M, Google has introduced the Voice Interaction API, which will allow apps to get a better handle on a user's voice-initiated requests. Check out the video below, by the leaders of a sandbox talk at I/O about voice actions.
The new API, as Google Search Developer Advocate Jarek Wilkiewicz explains, shouldn't be confused with custom voice actions. That feature, which launched with select partners in April and is currently in "early access" mode, is about getting users connected with an app through a voice request, while the voice interaction API is about "conversing" with users to firm up any clarifying questions before taking action.
For instance if, as in one of Google's examples, a user asks their home automation app (through Google) to turn on the lights, the app can then have Google ask "which room," and when the user specifies a room, the app will take action.
The combination of voice actions and voice interaction in M opens up an interesting new way for users to engage with third party apps through "ok Google", and one can hope that Google will continue to expand on this integration to eventually give developers the sort of in-app interactions we're dreaming of. That said, Google Now On Tap will no doubt bridge some of that gap.
- Dianne Hackborn (Google+)