Google Home voice apps grow to 568 and there is now deeper integration with Google Assistant in terms of Assistant app discovery. As a side note, Google uses both the term Assistant Apps and Actions interchangeably which are both really just voice-first apps that other voice platform vendors call skills or apps.
Regular Voicebot readers will note that Assistant apps totaled just 468 10 days ago. The 100 Assistant apps rise is a 21% increase in just a few days. However, most of that difference is accounted for in the 83 “Home Control” category for Assistant apps. Home automation apps were not previously listed in the Assistant apps “discovery” section of Google Home. So, real Assistant app growth has been 3.6% over the past 10 days. We welcome this addition of the home automation category as it provides a better comparison with Amazon Alexa which has always included these in its skill categories.
App Category Breakdown
The new categorization by Google has enabled us to more easily see the relative distribution of voice apps on the platform. Just under 50% fall into just three of the 17 categories. Games and Fun leads the way with 20.4% followed by Home Control and Education and Reference at 14.6% and 14.1% respectively. All of the others range between 1.2% and 7.4% of the total. When you combine the entertainment-oriented categories you come up with about 29% of the total.
Finding Google Assistant Voice Apps
Most people don’t spend much time in their Google Home app. Even if they did, it was previously very hard to find Assistant apps to browse. Voice app discovery is a known problem. Amazon has had more time to work on this and has a more extensive store and search capability both online and on mobile. However, there is still widespread dissatisfaction among developers on the tools available to surface their Alexa skills to users. Google Home / Assistant developers had even less visibility the update this week has changed that.
For those of you that weren’t familiar with the old model, it was accessible only through menu>more settings>Assistant Apps under the “Services” section. Very few people knew this was there and all Assistant apps, or Actions on Google if you prefer, we listed alphabetically as cards. If you have the Google Home app version 1.24.374 or earlier, you can still likely browse the Assistant apps in this manner. However, if you have updated you app to either 1.24.512 or the more recent 1.24.526, this option is no longer available.
Instead users that have Google Assistant installed now have a new option in their menu that says “Explore.” If you don’t have Google Assistant the upper part of the menu won’t be there. Your first item will likely be “Devices.”
Once you tap “Explore” you are then taken to Google Assistant, but you likely won’t know it and just assume you are in another tab or page in the Google Home app. No matter, you are now in Google Assistant and will see the Discovery screen to the far right. From there you can scroll down to see categories such as Business & Finance, Music & Audio, Shopping and Weather. In each category you can scroll / swipe horizontally to see multiple Assistant apps in each category.
Enabling Better Google Home Voice App Discovery
This is a significant change for Google and well worth exploring. No doubt this will make it easier for many consumers to find some of the Assistant apps for Google Home that have previously been well hidden. Also, you can navigate to this catalog directly through the Google Assistant app. Just tap the blue circle in the upper right corner of the app screen.
Google Adds Some Voice App Discovery on the Web
Google added another resource just today. It published a new web page, Apps & Partners, specifically related to Google Home. However, this page only has five of the seventeen categories you can see through the Google Assistant app. It also only highlights 69 of the 568 Assistant apps. Why the shorter list? No idea. Maybe, they just didn’t get to it.
However, this page does have one category that doesn’t exist on the Google Assistant app catalog. It includes a sixth category called “Streaming Devices.” There are 10 listed including Nvidia Shield, Philips, Toshiba and Vizio in addition to two Chromecast devices.
Tighter Integration Between Google Home and Assistant Mobile Apps
These changes have offered everyone from consumers to developers much better visibility into the third party applications supporting Google Home. This should help drive usage for many of them. It also points to much tighter integration between the Google Home and Google Assistant apps. You could potentially see all of this migrate to Google Assistant one day. Google’s portfolio of voice applications from the voice search icon in the mobile chrome browser to Allo, Google Assistant and Google Home apps has led to a good deal of confusion. Why so many apps all with similar functions if different capabilities? The move to integrate Home and Assistant apps looks like the first step in rationalizing that portfolio.