Recently, Google decided to take its Google Assistant app to a whole new level, by allowing device makers to add custom commands.
What made them take this huge step is the fact that some basic commands such as turn on or turn off are not complex enough for some smart devices. Your washing machine, for example, has many options and “Okay Google, turn on the washing machine” just doesn’t seem enough anymore.
If you are still unfamiliar with the basics of Google Assistant, here is a quick brief.
Google Assistant 101
Google Assistant is similar to Siri or Alexa, but in this writer’s opinion, it provides more human-like interaction.
The app can be run from your Android device, laptop, desktop computer, Google Home, smart TV, fridge, oven and car.
Note: If you want to run the Assistant from your Android device, the operating system has to be 5.0 or higher.
First, go to the Google app (press Home button), click Settings/ Google Assistant/ Settings/ Turn on.
Your personal assistant will be ready for your first command. However, before asking a question or giving an instruction, say “Okay Google.” For example, “Okay Google, remind me to take my medicine at 12 p.m.”
If you are in the middle of a business meeting, you can type your commands by using your keyboard. Just open the Google Assistant app and click the keyboard icon.
You can use Google Assistant to open apps, call your friends and family; you can text, set alarms, explore weather, find out what’s new in the world or your town, and even ask trivia questions.You’ll be hooked before you know it.
However, these are not the only tasks Google Assistant can now perform. Recently, the company allowed manufacturers of smart TVs, ovens, fridges and other devices that feature Google Assistant to create their own custom commands by using Custom Device Actions or IFTTT. They can now add functionalities that are specific to their device(s).
For example, ovens have many features, and you can set it to preheat the oven to a specific temperature; you can turn on one or more heaters or fans just by using your voice and with a little help of your Google Assistant.
Creating Custom Commands by Using IFTTT
To be able to use this option and create custom device actions for Google Assistant, you will have to go to ifttt.com and create an account.
- Click Sign up.
- You can connect with your Google account, Facebook, or enter username and password.
- Once the sign-up process is completed, you will be able to browse other people’s applets or to create your own.
Creating a New Applet
If you are not pleased with applets other people created and you need something completely different, you can create your own custom command.
In the top right corner, you can see the “my account” area. If you click on the arrow, you will be able to see new applet section.
If you want to create a new applet you should:
- Click New A
- Click this.
- Select Google Assistant.
- Select a trigger.
- Fill the form.
- Click to“Create” a
- Select that. This is the step where you are creating an action.
- Search for the service.
- Connect your account.
- Choose an action.
- Fill the form.
- Select Create action.
You can always make changes to your applet, and when you are pleased with the result, hit finish.
Creating Custom Commands by Using Custom Device Actions
If you are a developer, you’ll find creating custom commands for Google Assistant with Custom Device Actions quite a treat.
The company presented new features of Google Assistant during the SXSW convention in Austin, where they demonstrated how the app could be used to control the robot that is sorting our laundry.
The code was developed by using Google’s new Custom Device Actions, which is awesome for manufacturers who need specific commands for their smart devices. As you can assume, in order to use this feature, you have to know a thing or two about coding, which isn’t very user-friendly for us regular folk. If you simply want to make your lights dim by 70%, it’s better to go with IFTTT.
The Future of Google Assistant
Google Assistant’s developers are continuously working to integrate new features. They’re particularly focusing on leveraging the way artificial intelligence interacts and communicates with users. The goal is to build a strong and emphatic relationship between the two.
Also, the goal is not to create a perfect assistant that will not make mistakes; but to develop a program that will know how to deal with those mistakes in a human-like way and learn not to repeat them. The perfect assistant, similar to one in real life, knows how to ask the right questions. This means it understands what you are asking it to do. For example, if you want to order a pizza, the assistant should ask you from which restaurant, what kind of pizza, which toppings do you want, etc.
Google Assistant is already able to understand our unique ways of expressing ourselves, even when they’re not always clear. For instance, if you are trying to find a book and you don’t know the author or the main character’s name, it will be able to identify it only based on just a few pieces of information you can provide about the plot.
Building off artificial intelligence technology, the Custom Commands features will ultimately connect every device in your home and beyond. And not just every device, but also every app you use.