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Google's actions apps go for a more global audience

Google's apps for its digital assistant, called actions, gain new languages, including Hindi, Thai and Dutch.

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At Google's CES booth, which was heavily focused on the company's digital assistant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google is continuing its push to make its digital assistant a global hit.

At Mobile World Congress, the search giant said Monday that developers can now create apps for Google Assistant in seven new languages: Hindi, Thai, Indonesian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch. More languages should be added by year's end, the company said.

Google, by the way, dubbed these digital-assistant apps "actions," much like Amazon named its apps for the Alexa voice assistant "skills." Actions include querying the assistant for directions, hailing an Uber or asking for a recipe.

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This new languages for Google's actions join a list that already includes English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian, so the assistant now supports 16 languages for apps.

Google is racing to build up its digital assistant in hopes of becoming a strong competitor against Amazon's Alexa, which helped popularize voice assistants and smart speakers. By expanding to many more countries, Google is likely trying to capture a broad swath of international customers before Amazon can get to them first.

The new addition comes just after Google on Friday said that over the next few months it will give its assistant the ability to communicate via text in a bunch of new languages on Android phones and Apple iPhones.

As these new languages come online later this year, customers should expect to see new actions from developers becoming available around the same time.

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