Google adds a slew of new Assistant features for app developers

In order for Google Assistant to be a real contender against the likes of Alexa, it needs third party app support. In order to get more developers on-board, the company needs to add a lot more features to incentivize development, even as Amazon’s home AI continues to dominate marketshare. This morning Google took a key step toward making Assistant a more compelling experience, announcing a boatload of new features for app developers, including a new push notifications, daily updates and additional language support.

One of the more interesting new features on board is speaker-to-phone transfer, a new API that makes it possible to start an action on a Google Home speaker and complete it on the phone. So users can, say, order food through the speaker and get the receipt on a screen. That addition is keeping on Google’s push to grow Assistant beyond just a simple voice interface.

It could also, perhaps, lay the foundation for the Echo Show competitor we’ve all been waiting for from the company.

Push notifications are a biggie too, for obvious reasons. That new API means that apps can send important updates to users on the phone, with Google Home spoken functionality coming down the road. Also new here is the addition of a For Families badge, designating which apps are okay for the little ones and support for additional languages, including Spanish, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese.

The ability to link accounts in the app has been improved as well — in the earlier build, users could only do it before engaging with the app. Now it can be accomplished whenever it’s most convenient. Oh, and the updated version of the Cancel command lets the app send a user a polite farewell before logging off, because courtesy is important, even for smart assistants.

The new features come roughly a month after Google added a number of new additions to its Home family of smart speakers, along with the Pixel Buds, which have recently started shipping. The new additions will, hopefully, give developers enough time to ramp up their app experiences ahead of the holidays.