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Google invites third parties to make Assistant smarter

The tech giant opens up development tools for Google Assistant, the software that powers its Google Home smart speaker.

Google hopes making Google Assistant smarter will make its Google Home speaker more useful.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Google Assistant is about to get a bit smarter, thanks to third-party developers.

The Alphabet-owned company said Thursday it is opening up its digital assistant with new tools for developers who want to interact with customers through Google Home, its always-listening smart home speaker. The tools, called Conversation Actions, will allow developers to engage with users in conversational form to answer questions, provide assistance and eventually sell products and make bookings.

Powered by artificial intelligence, the idea is for Google Assistant to learn about you and your behavior so it can provide answers catering specifically to you. Partnerships with IFTTT, Samsung, Philips and Nest will allow Google Home to control home electronics.

"To be a truly successful Assistant, it should be able to connect users across the apps and services in their lives," Jason Douglas, product management director for Actions on Google, wrote in a blog post Thursday. "This makes enabling an ecosystem where developers can bring diverse and unique services to users through the Google Assistant really important."

By opening up its platform to other companies and developers, Google is beefing up its assault on Echo, Amazon's internet-connected speaker. Google has already reportedly approached the home audio community's biggest names to help it spread its platform by building devices that work like its Google Home.

Google plans to eventually make the integrations available across the Google Assistant platform such as Google's Allo chat app and Google's Pixel phones.

Developers can request to become an early access partner for upcoming platform features.