Build Actions for the next billion users

Posted by Brad Abrams, Group Product Manager, Actions on Google

Before we look forward and discuss updates to Actions on Google for 2019, we wanted to recognize our global developer community for your tremendous work in 2018. We saw more than 4 times the number of projects created with Actions on Google this past year. And some of the most popular Action categories include Games and Trivia, Home Control, Music, Actions for Families, and Education – well done!

We hope to carry this enthusiasm forward, and at Mobile World Congress, we’re announcing new tools so you can reach and engage with more people around the globe.

Building for the next billion users

The Google Assistant’s now available in more than 80 countries in nearly 30 languages, and you’ve been busy making your Actions accessible in many of those locales.

One of the most exciting things we’ve seen in the last couple of years is happening in places where the next billion users are coming online for the first time. In these fast-growing countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico, voice is often the primary way users interact with their devices because it’s natural, universal, and the most accessible input method for people who are starting to engage with technology for the first time in their lives.

Actions on Google coming to KaiOS and Android (Go Edition)

As more countries are coming online, we want to make it so you can reach and engage with these users as they’re adopting the Google Assistant into their everyday lives with astonishing ease. There are tens of millions of users on Android Go and KaiOS in over 100 countries.

We’ll be making your Actions available to Android Go and KaiOS devices in the next few months, so you should start thinking now about how to build for these platforms and users. Without any additional work required, your Actions will work on both operating systems at launch (unless of course, Action requires a screen with touch input). We’ll also be launching a simulator so you can test your Actions to see how they look on entry-level Android Go smartphones and KaiOS feature phones.

A couple of partners have already built Actions with these new audiences in mind. Hello English, for example, created an Action to offer English lessons for users that speak Hindi, to create more opportunities for people through language learning. And Where is My Train? (WIMT) was built for the millions of Indians commuting daily, offering real-time locations and times for trains accessible by voice. Check out our developer docs for KaiOS and Android Go Edition, and start building for the next billion users.

Expanding capabilities to more languages and countries

And we’re not just focused on a handful of emerging countries. We’re always working to enable all of Actions on Google’s tools so users can enjoy the best experience possible regardless of the country they live in or the language they speak—our work here never ends! Here’s a snapshot of some of the progress we’ve made this past year:

  • New locales: Since last MWC, we’ve launched Actions on Google support for more languages and locales. You can now build Actions in 19 languages across 28 locales.
  • Wavenet voices: As we’ve launched Actions on Google in more languages, we’ve added more text-to-speech voice options for your Actions. And thanks to Wavenet advancements, we’re introducing improved, more natural-sounding TTS voices for English (en-US, en-GB and en-AU), Dutch, French (fr-FR and fr-CA), German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Japanese, Korean, Polish, Danish and Swedish. You can listen to the upgraded voices here, and they’ll start rolling out to your Actions in the coming weeks.
  • Transactions: You can now offer transactional experiences in 22 markets, up from just 1 since last MWC. If you’re looking to incorporate transactions in your Actions, check out these tips.
  • Templates for the next billion users: If you’re not yet familiar with templates, you can fill in a Google Sheet and publish an Action within minutes. Trivia and Personality Quiz templates are available in English, (en-US and en-UK), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi and Indonesian. All you have to do is upload a Sheet in any of the languages above and your Actions will be live in those languages.

We’ve already talked about how busy the development community was this past year, and we’ve been hard at work to keep up! If you’re looking to reach and engage with millions—even billions more users—now’s a good time to start thinking about how your Action can make a difference in people’s lives around the globe.