Google Assistant gets slew of new features, better 3rd party integration

Manufacturers can now add their own commands in Google Assistant

Ever since its inception a year ago, Google has been adding a ton of new features to the Google Assistant. New Actions on Google for developers mean new Assistant features for everyone.

Google has announced during SXSW 2018 its opening the Assistant up to third-parties so OEMs can build custom commands for different products. In order to encourage the usage, the new feature aims to add more functionality on such speciality devices.

Lastly, Google Assistant also now allows you to ask for periodic notifications from apps that support Actions, such as Forbes' "Quote of the Day". The subscriptions were one of the original features of Google Assistant when it was launched, however, the update brings more new things in this feature such as daily updates and push notifications. Basically, this means that Google Assistant users will have access to more audio experiences, including relaxing sound, clips from favorite TV shows, as well as news briefings.

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These zany abilities aside, Assistant now supports better media playback integration, extending its functions beyond just podcasts to TV shows, interviews and interactive stories, along with support for a better carousel inside the Assistant window for more convenient interaction with visual content. There aren't many examples of hardware with built-in Assistant yet, but developers will be able to include custom commands in them going forward. Users can turn off the phone screen and still listen to the audio.

Assistant will now also be able to show you information in a carousel like view within the Assistant panel. The new support allows Actions to send alerts like "newly added workout, a change in a stock price, or a news alert, right when it happens". Google uses the instance of turning on a connected oven.

An example the company cites is the distinction between a general instruction that goes "Turn on the oven" and the more specific "Set the oven to convection and preheat to 350 degrees".

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