Interested in Google Assistant as a development platform? Google wants to encourage that impulse.
A new program will fund startups and tech pros interested in building new features for Google Assistant, Google’s voice-activated digital helper. The company will also make engineers, product managers, and design experts available to those select startups seeking technical guidance and feedback.
And that’s not all (as the late-night infomercials say): Google promises marketing help, as well as access to the Google Cloud Platform. “We’re welcoming companies across a diverse range of fields, including startups that are developing technologies that broaden the Assistant’s set of features,” reads Google’s official blog posting on the matter, “or are building new hardware devices for digital assistants, or that focus on a particular industry such as travel, games, or hospitality.”
Current funded projects include a “personal English tutor” powered by deep learning, and a virtual concierge for guests at hotels. Those developers interested in some funding from Google should head to the Actions on Google page, where they can fill out a form.
Over the past year, Google has focused on building out development tools and features for Google Assistant. At its annual I/O conference in 2017, for instance, it rolled out an SDK that allowed manufacturers to integrate the platform into pretty much any kind of hardware; over the past twelve months, dozens of “smart home” partners have made roughly 5,000 devices compatible with Google’s software. Meanwhile, Google has positioned Google Home as a competitor to the Amazon Echo and (to a smaller degree) Apple’s HomePod.
If you’re curious about building apps for Google Assistant (whether or not you land funding from Google), Google’s developer site contains all kinds of neat tools, including a module that claims you can build a simple app (also known as an “action”) in 30 minutes. Yes, there should be an emphasis on the word “simple”; building a more complex action will take quite a bit more time and research—but if it’s a good idea, Google has even demonstrated a willingness to help out with the funding.