Google helps Assistant make purchases easier

Google Assistant takes a step closer to being end-users' voice-controlled life manager.
11 October 2018

Developers get deeper Google Assistant integration with new facilities announced by the company. Source: Shutterstock

Google has joined Amazon in allowing developers to add in-Action purchases of digital products. Assistant Actions are the voice apps which piggyback off Google’s Assistant and enable users to interact with third-party services.

Developers can now monetize their Assistant Actions further, selling premium digital content which augments the Action. Previously, only physical goods could be purchased in third-party apps via the Google Assistant.

Digital content may include account upgrades (from free to premium), extra credits, one-time coupons, and any other reward or feature that’s ensconced in zeroes and ones.

Digital purchases are enabled through Transactions, which already let users book services, shop with third-parties, or update calendars with new, scheduled appointments – essentially treating the Assistant as a virtual butler across all apps (or voice-controlled Actions).

Google Assistant is available across many Android-powered handhelds and is, of course, embedded in the Google Home devices and Smart Displays. Google has also added Google Sign-In for the Assistant, and given the entirety of the Assistant a GUI makeover.

The tight integration between all versions of the Assistant and the end user’s account means that purchases made via the Assistant on one device will appear immediately on all devices connected to the same Google account, regardless of where the purchase originated. Management of all digital goods is possible in the Play Console.

These changes mean that users can sign in on new devices and have them configured & attached to the same Google account with just a single tap or voiceprint confirmation.

Developers can now add rich responses to feed information or options back to users, in a series of ready-made, customizable forms in visual interfaces. There are already sets of components for different types of content, including video, images, animated GIFs and thumbnail images of, for instance, previous choices.

In a blog post, Michael Bronstein, vice president of product for Google Assistant said:

“Two years ago the Google Assistant made its debut, and since then we’ve noticed that nearly half of all interactions with the Assistant include both voice and touch. With a new makeover to the Assistant on phones, we’re making it even easier to get things done regardless of whether you prefer to use your hands, your voice, or a combination of the two.”

Developers can now use Google Sign-In for the Assistant rather than needing to build an account system with support for OAuth-based account linking.

Starbucks is already using this facility in its Action to allows users access to their Starbucks rewards accounts through the Assistant. Since its introduction, login conversions have nearly doubled for Starbucks.