Google Home set to get loads of third-party tricks very soon

Google has revealed that it's opening up its Google Home "conversation Actions" to third party developers, which will give users of the voice-activated speaker assistant new ways to use the gadget.

Third-party support will open up fully "early next year". Though with some partner developers having already been working with Google for some time, there's a good chance we could see new functionality hit the speaker before the year is out.

However, compared to Amazon's Alexa, embedded in the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speakers, Google is taking a different path towards enhancing how Home will improve over time.

Google Home gatekeepers

Essentially, whereas Alexa is an opt-in centralised offering, letting users download its voice activated "Skills" as and when they want to increase the device's capabilities, Google Home will make all third-party functions open to all users when they become available.

That's because Google Home will actually play host to many separate "Actions" from multiple developers - so if you use a third-party keyword as a trigger, you'll jump from Google's chat bot to, say, Uber's or Spotify's. The thinking here is that each service will be better able to serve the kinds of conversations its users expect to have than Google can.

It's an interesting approach that brings its own complications. Without selecting Actions manually from some kind of app store equivalent, how will Google Home users know what new functions are on offer? And how will Google categorise which keywords should be associated with what brands and services? Will the biggest players be able to buy or squat on the most valuable Google Home trigger terms, pushing out worthy competition to less natural phrases?

Along with Alexa, it's a whole new age for a whole new wave of devices. The convenience is welcome - here's hoping it doesn't come at the cost of choice or transparency.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.