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Third-parties can now customize Google Assistant voice commands

Tired of saying, "Hey Google, talk to..." and then saying a third-party company? Well, Google has lifted some restrictions, and that day will soon come.

Published onMarch 9, 2018

Google Assistant
  • Google is letting third-party companies tweak Google Assistant code to make issuing voice commands more streamlined.
  • Now, instead of saying, “Hey Google, talk to…” and then a third party company, you will be able to issue a simpler command.
  • LG is one company that has already changed its voice commands for its line of appliances.

If you use Google Assistant voice commands to control non-Google applications, you may have to move out of Assistant to do so. In the example of adding an item to your Out of Milk shopping list, you have to say, “OK Google, talk to Out of Milk,” first, and then say, “Add broccoli.” Conversely, you can say, “Hey Google, ask Out of Milk to add broccoli,” which works as well.

But wouldn’t it be way more natural and more intuitive just to say, “Hey Google, add broccoli to the shopping list?” Google thinks so, too, which is why it is enabling third-party companies, like Out of Milk, to create custom Google Assistant commands.

The problem has been that Google Assistant has built-in universal commands that other companies weren’t able to tweak. Therefore, saying something like, “add to shopping list” makes no sense to Assistant, because it wasn’t programmed to understand that.

Google announces big changes for Assistant at MWC 2018

Now, Google is opening up a bit and handing off some of the coding work to other software and hardware companies. If all goes well, Out of Milk could enable an “add to shopping list” voice query to future versions of the app.

It’s not just apps, either. LG, for example, is already taking advantage of this new ability. Starting today, you no longer have to say, “Talk to LG” before issuing an LG appliance a voice command. You should just be able to say, “Hey Google, start the washing machine,” and Google Assistant will know you want to start your LG machine.

Owners of Harmony remotes are probably ecstatic with this news, as for a long time now they have had to say, “Ask Harmony to…” before every command. I’m sure Harmony users are all finally looking forward to the day when they can simply say, “Hey Google, turn on the living room TV,” instead of saying, “Hey Google, ask Harmony to turn on the living room TV.” Oh, the humanity.

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