AutoVoice is a powerful tool developed by the maintainer of Tasker, João Dias. It lets you trigger Tasker and IFTTT recipes with your voice, so you can easily start complicated workflows involving multiple smart home devices with a simple phrase. Unfortunately, there seems to be some misunderstanding between Google and the developer. The AutoVoice Assistant action is currently not available because the company griped with the description of the service.

The problem

To get a new version of an Assistant action approved by Google, there are usually some issues that have to be resolved before the company is happy with the update. Still, a rejection is not a big problem as it doesn't affect the stable release channel. The public action remains available and functional while the developer and Google sort out what needs fixing.

When Dias submitted the latest version of his Auto Voice this time around, Google first rejected it, as usual. A bit later, though, Dias received an approval of the same version without ever changing anything in it, and it hit the release channel right away. The developer then got a message that his action has been taken down altogether. Google states the product violated its description policies and even provided what it wanted it to say. Specifically, the company seems to take issue with the mention of Tasker and the implication that the Assistant is limited without AutoVoice. Here's the original description:

If you install the AutoVoice Android app and Tasker you'll be able to do anything you want with your Google Assistant.

Suddenly there's no more stuff that it doesn't understand because you can just make it understand anything you want. :)

Check this video for some examples of how it can work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFfOfCxukCs

And here's the description Google asks for:

AutoVoice Action works along with the AutoVoice Android app. You'll be able to send commands from the AutoVoice Action to the AutoVoice Android App to perform several types of actions. Check this video for some examples of how it can work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFfOfCxukCs

Dias contacted Google support right away to work out the banal problem, but he has since only received a boilerplate response saying "We're currently receiving a high volume of support requests. If you're sending a support request, please expect delays in our response." This indicates that the issue might stick around for a bit. The problem is especially taxing on people who rely on AutoVoice to control their smart home, with some unable to adjust heating and lights with their Google Home devices.

The workaround

The temporary workaround is time-consuming as you'll have to recreate all of your commands, but it could still be interesting as a permanent option for people who don't want to repeat "talk to AutoVoice" over and over again. You first need to create an IFTTT recipe that's responsible for recognizing a phrase you want to use for your AutoVoice action. Then, you have to send the command to Join via a webhook, and finally, you need to build a Tasker profile that performs the desired action. Read the detailed walk-through on the AutoApps forum.

Hopefully, Google allows Dias to republish his action soon, as the workaround is pretty laborious. This just goes to show that we need reliable open standards that can also work without an internet connection and can't be disabled remotely.

AutoVoice is back but English only, for now

AutoVoice developer João Dias reached out to us to tell us that his action is available on the Assistant again. The only change he had to incorporate was Google's desired description. For now, AutoVoice is English only as that was the fastest solution – Dias explains "the approval process usually takes a really long time because the action needs to be tested in every single language." Other locales will follow after this lengthy procedure.