Google removing third-party Assistant voice apps and Nest Hub games amid Android focus

All of Google’s major consumer platforms, like Android and ChromeOS, allow for third-party developers. In the case of Assistant, Google is making a change to focus on Android and will essentially no longer allow third-party voice experiences – including apps and games with visual interactions – on Smart Displays or speakers

Google announced today that “Conversational Actions” will be deprecated in June of 2023. Activated by “Hey Google, talk to [x service],” it was announced in 2016 as the first way for third-party developers to integrate with Assistant. Before today, Google advertised it as such:

Build rich and natural conversations

Build custom voice and visual experiences for smart devices such as phones, speakers, and displays.

Priority: Assistant + Android

Google is getting rid of Conversational Actions to focus on “App Actions with Android” from 2019 as “users want to engage with their favorite apps using voice, and developers want to build upon their existing investments in Android.” 

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Google removing third-party Assistant voice apps and Nest Hub games amid Android focus 2

The new approach is to just have developers add voice control capabilities to their existing Android apps instead of creating an entirely independent experience from the ground up that was device agnostic. In all, that made development harder and came about during the early days of voice assistants when many companies were experimenting with the new interaction method.

This Android focus is not limited to just phones and tablets as these Assistant experiences also work on watches (Wear OS), televisions (Google/Android TV), and cars (Android Auto/Automotive). Recent improvements include having Assistant “direct users to apps even when queries don’t mention an app name” and opening a Play Store listing if the necessary application isn’t installed. Another example is surfacing App Actions (shortcuts) in Pixel Launcher search.

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