Google Actions expand to Android and iPhone

Actions on Google – the voice-activated apps that are Google’s answer to Alexa’s Skills – are expanding to the new platforms of iOS and Android, the company announced at its I/O developer conference this afternoon.

Currently, Actions are available on Google Home devices. The company had promised earlier that Actions would be available on Google’s Pixel smartphones and within its Allo chat application, but this expansion will dramatically increase their reach.

The company had announced earlier in the keynote that it has 2 billion users on Android, for example. And Google is now launching is Assistant on iOS, it also said today.

In addition, Google’s Valerie Nygaard said that Actions will support transactions, allowing for things like purchases by voice.

Actions allow users to interact with developers’ apps, by speaking to the Google Assistant with a phrase like “OK Google, talk to…,” followed by the app’s name. This is different from Alexa’s Skills, which have to first be enabled through your smartphone or by voice commands

For example, you can ask the Google Assistant to order you an Uber or play your favorite music from Pandora, among other things.

The expansion comes nearly half a year after Google opened up access to Google Assistant to developers who wanted to build voice apps for its platform. But at the time of the December announcement of that move, these voice-based Actions could only run on the connected speaker, and Echo competitor, Google Home.

Google’s late arrival to the connected speaker market has given Amazon and its line of Echo speakers the lead. According to a forecast from eMarketer released earlier this month, Amazon will have nearly 71 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. in 2017, well ahead of Google Home’s 23.8 percent share.

That’s why it makes sense that Google is leveraging its other platforms to attract developer interest in the space.