Google Playing Catch-Up

man talkng to virtual assistant

Digital “assistants” can’t really be considered new anymore, since Apple’s Siri has been around for years now. However, they are constantly trying to forge paths into new territory, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is coming late to this game, rolling out its version just a couple of months ago.

Right now, Google Assistant is competing primarily with Amazon’s Alexa in a race to take over the Smart Home territory. There are some noticeable differences between the two, and Google Home has received a very warm welcome from reviewers, but there is no question that Amazon’s two year old Alexa is far more firmly entrenched at the moment.

Google has just opened Google Assistant to outside developers, so that other companies can make it possible to communicate with users who utter approved phrases after saying “Okay Google”. It will be possible to talk to any number of retailers, such as target, and just walk conversationally through an entire purchase.

Although, while Google is contending that this is a revolutionary development, connecting users with desired services in much the same way its search engine matches them with the most relevant websites, Amazon’s Alexa is already there with a feature called Skills. In fact, Amazon has already formed a staggering 5,000 partnerships with companies from Uber to Domino’s, allowing users to communicate from the company’s widely popular Echo speakers.

Google does point out that their new feature, which has been named Conversation Actions, will be more intrinsic to devices than Amazon’s skills. The company points out that Echo owners have to choose the “skills” they will want to use and then set them up manually, while all of Google’s Conversation Actions will be built in, and users will just have to use the particular phrase that each company has claimed.

Whether that will still be true by the time the new feature is available remains to be seen.