Google Launches Actions for Google Home


Today is a big day — in fact, a watershed moment in the emergence of voice as a mainstream interface that delivers true value to millions of people.  Today, Google officially made Actions on Google generally available to developers who want to build actions for the Google Assistant on  Google Home.  (If you are familiar with Alexa and the Amazon Echo, an action is to Google Assistant what a Skill is to Alexa: third party designed, developed, hosted and maintained capabilities that are accessible to customers who own a Google Home or an Alexa Device.)

And it’s about time!  The emergence of a competitor to Amazon is going to now lock both of these giant innovators into a race that will not only benefit end customers, but will spur both of these giants to push themselves that much harder to deliver excellence.  Google Home is a sweet device: elegant and decorative, it’s as good as the Echo when it comes to the crucial baseline of speech recognition performance — both in terms of accuracy and speed — and it has its own, earned pockets of differentiation.  In our own work to deliver the skills that we have delivered on the Amazon Echo, we have found that Google Home is at least on par in its performance with Alexa.  One of the skills we are porting is heavy on Speech Recognition — lots of stock names and variations of company names.  No problem: Google Assistant delivered.  We also liked the fact that fuzzy logic is used to identify the name of companies and that this fuzzy logic is adaptable to user voices. For example, if you pronounce “Facebooks” as “Fecbok,” Google provides us with a way to identify the way you speak it and then internalizes that intelligence in its model next time your speak it.

Also interesting was that our effort porting some of our deployed Alexa skills to Google Home was pretty straightforward: basically, just work — nothing mysterious.  That means that we will be able to get our clients on both platforms quickly so that we can move on to the exquisite business of enabling customers to have a seamless experience between platforms.

Last but not least: we were able to use the exact same Witlingo analytics API and portal with the Google Assistant on Google Home, enabling our clients to use the same Witlingo API and the same Witlingo portal to view the Analytics on their skills and agents.  The supposedly big question, “Which of the two platforms is going to perform better at what” is going to be moot — and really one that we will be able to answer.  And the answer will be sought and delivered not in the spirit of declaring one platform above or better than the other, but rather in the spirit of learning from the weaknesses and the strengths of both platforms, the better to serve the end customer and to deliver them the best possible voice experience.