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April 30, 2015

Google Announces New Partners for Custom Voice Actions on Android

by John_A

OK Google

“OK Google” has changed the world as we know it, or at least the Android world as we know it. Either way, true fanboys believers know that Google’s voice recognition software is the most robust in the industry and the most capable of understanding regular, colloquial speech.

As voice search continues to evolve, its ability to integrate with apps has also improved. Today, Google announced a further step towards that integration. Third-party developers can now employ custom actions that integrate with voice search without the need to open the app first. Google has roped in a specific set of partners to develop this newfound synergy. And it’s all about synergy, folks. Who these partners are hasn’t been disclosed, but the gif below highlights both NPR and TripAdvisor, so let’s not assume that Google woke up today feeling magnanimous and in the mood to offer free ad space to both parties just for funsies.


Now if you’re like me, you might read this and say, “But, um, doesn’t ‘OK Google’ sort of work in this way already?” Indeed, “OK Google, listen to NPR” doesn’t seem all that revolutionary. Nor does, “OK Google, show attractions near me on TripAdvisor.” Frankly, I’ve been able to do both of those functions before today’s announcement. Just to double check, I performed a number of functions before writing this article and ensured my voice search app hasn’t updated today. I’m happy to be corrected if my hubris has gotten the best of me.

For example, if I tell Google to listen to Great Lake Swimmers, by default it opens the Google Music app and finds the band. But If I say, “OK Google, listen to Great Lake Swimmers on Spotify,” it still takes me into Spotify’s app. Either way, it does what I ask and does it pretty well.

Google Search Custom TuneIn

What we’ve gleaned from this announcement is that rather than rely upon Google’s own excellent voice recognition software to push us into the appropriate place, app developers now have the opportunity to designate organic commands of note and drive things from there. Think of it like the apps are now able to pull us into their ecosystem instead of Google needing to push us in. Plus, there appears to be the promise that while within an app, we can call out to Google, which is a step up from needing to find the little voice button.

Also – unrelated – what’s up with the gif? That’s clearly a Nexus 6, but what’s the device it’s sitting on? Any takers?

Source: Android Developers


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