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Google makes big push to integrate and let you control Android apps with Assistant

Google Assistant is available on a slew of platforms from cars to TVs and wearables. However, the place where it has really taken off is inside the home on Smart Displays and speakers to control household fixtures. Google now wants to bring Assistant’s ubiquity to Android apps.

The big focus of Google Assistant Developer Day is on controlling apps on Android via voice. Many of the third-party interactions you have with Assistant today are to command smart home devices, like lights and security cameras.

Google now wants to make controlling the applications on your phone with Assistant a very common action. It’s starting by highlighting how 30 of the top Google Play apps have voice commands:

  • “Hey Google, send a message to Rachel on Discord”
  • “Hey Google, search for candles on Etsy”
  • “Hey Google, log a berry smoothie on MyFitnessPal”
  • “Hey Google, check my accounts on Mint”
  • “Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt”
  • “Hey Google, start my run with Nike Run Club”
  • “Hey Google, order a smoothie on Postmates”
  • “Hey Google, send snap with Cartoon Lens”
  • “Hey Google, find Motivation Mix on Spotify”
  • “Hey Google, check news on Twitter”
  • “Hey Google, when is my Walmart order arriving?”

The company’s big pitch is that using Assistant means you don’t “need to swipe to use your apps when your hands are full.” This convenience might particularly resonate for those who want to simplify and be more hands-free with their technology. Apps are inherently more complicated than smart home gadgets given how you can do so much more.

Ever fumble with your phone while you’re on a run? Or want to order a quick bite when you’re on the go? Now you can just say, “Hey Google” to your Android phone and Google Assistant will open, search, and more, across all your favorite apps.

Google is letting people do more than just open apps with their voice. With developer configuration, Assistant can now directly open specific pages (OPEN_APP_FEATURE intent) and search within apps (GET_THING). For examples, users can say “open Kroger pay” and “find baseball cards on eBay.”

Users sometime give broad commands, and Assistant will now recommend relevant Actions even if an app wasn’t specified. For example, “Hey Google, show me Taylor Swift” will see Google offer an “Open on Twitter” suggestion at the bottom of the screen.

To take this a step further, Assistant is making it easy to personally customize voice prompts. For example, “Hey Google, tighten my shoes with Nike Adapt,” can become “Hey Google, lace it.”

There is a Shortcuts page in Assistant settings — accessible using “Hey Google, my shortcuts” — to set-up these custom phrases. “Proactive suggestions” will also be offered through the Assistant UI.

The new screen has two tabs. Under “Explore,” Google will suggest macros that “you might like” based on frequently used Android apps. The shorter command is noted first, followed by the resulting action. Below that is a list of “All shortcuts for your apps,” while the “Your shortcuts” tab rounds out this UI. Tapping will slide up a sheet that lets you edit the phrase before confirming.

While Routines help you program multiple recurring tasks, Shortcuts are quicker and more impromptu, with these single actions no longer burdened by the complexity of creating more advanced macros.

Google is encouraging developers to tune in to today’s presentations to learn about integrating their Android apps with Assistant.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: