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Google Assistant SDK Offered to Third-Party Devs

Google Home hasn't even celebrated its first birthday yet, but now it's learning that it must share its prized possession: the voice-activated Google Assistant.

This lesson is thanks to Google's unveiling on Thursday of a software development kit (SDK) that will let third-party developers integrate the Assistant—which powers the artificial intelligence in the Home and select Android phones—into their own devices. That could open up the floodgates for connected home enthusiasts to utter the "OK, Google" phrase and have their demands met by a dizzying array of devices, from table lamps to webcams.

"With this SDK, you can now start building your own hardware prototypes that include the Google Assistant, like a self-built robot or a voice-enabled smart mirror," Google told developers on Thursday. "This allows you to interact with the Google Assistant from any platform."


Judging by the success of Google's chief rivals in the personal digital assistant market (Amazon Alexa and the Echo speakers), developers will jump at the opportunity. Alexa already has thousands of "skills" that let it do everything from order an Uber to dim the living room lights. Amazon has also recently given developers access to everything from Echo's voice recognition tech to Alexa's language processing AI.

Google's SDK works by allowing companies to configure their devices to capture a spoken query, such as "what's on my calendar?" The query is then sent to the Google Assistant service in the cloud, which sends back an audio response for the device to play.

In addition to Google Home, Google Assistant currently works with Pixel phones, Google Allo, and some Android devices running the running Marshmallow and Nougat OS versions. On the software side, it already has more than 200 third-party skills—"conversation actions" in Google parlance.

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