VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks the most important news and analysis from the exploding field of bots and messaging. Each week, we select the top stories and present them in our free weekly newsletter, BotBeat. We include news stories by VentureBeat staff, guest articles from leading figures in the bots community, and a good number of posts from a wide variety of other outlets. You can subscribe to our BotBeat newsletter to receive this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

Google today finally answered the challenge laid down earlier this year by Amazon’s Alexa.  Developers can now create voice-activated actions for Google Home using the Actions on Google platform. Actions are voice-activated bots, similar to Alexa Skills, and trigger either Direct Actions, “send my wife a text,” or Conversation Actions, “what’s the weather forecast this weekend?” Amazon reports that it has more than 5,000 Skills in its library, up from 100 earlier this year.

VentureBeat will be among the first news organizations on Google Home. Our bot — built by Gupshup, which has teamed with Google — will be available later this month. I’ll share more details about what to expect in the weeks ahead.

This is a thrilling moment in which to consider how interfaces are effectively vanishing on both your favorite messaging apps and on voice-activated platforms. They’re not there, but they are. Or are they? Perhaps a smarter way to think of interfaces is as being on-demand, as Matt Hartman of betaworks puts it, appearing as needed to unlock services inside chatbots. The interface for VentureBeat on Google Home will be invisible until you call it up by saying, “Ok Google, let me talk to VentureBeat.”

As always, please send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Be sure to visit our Bots Channel for comprehensive news on bots and messaging.

Thanks for reading,

— Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video of Google’s Behshad Behzadi on The Future of Search from ChatbotConf 2016.

From the Bots Channel

 

VentureBeat on Google Home will be available later this month.

Google teams with Gupshup to develop voice-activated Actions for Google Home

EXCLUSIVE: Gupshup today announced that it has partnered with Google to help build the first voice-activated Actions for Google Assistant on Google Home. Bot builders can now use Gupshup’s tools to create voice-activated bots — called Actions. Among the initial Google Actions from Gupshup will be a bot for VentureBeat, which will be one of the first […]

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Google Home.

Actions on Google platform launches for Google Home

Developers can now create actions for Google Home using the Actions on Google platform, the company announced today. Like an Alexa Skill, Actions are the controls that power a voice-enabled Google Assistant. There are two kinds of interactions with Google Assistant: Conversation Actions and Direct Actions. With early access to the platform, bot makers can build Conversation Actions for […]

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Amazon Echo Dot

12 Alexa skills you must have for your Amazon Echo (with video)

If you own an Amazon Echo, you might have noticed that most of the 3,000+ skills in the Alexa Skills Store totally suck. Luckily for you, we at TOPBOTS have combed through the entire directory to hunt down the best Alexa Skills that are actually worth trying. Keep reading to learn the 12 most useful […]

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Jesus Saves bot5 bots to try this week: Bly, Agent.ai, Reply.ai, Jesus Bot, and Chattabot

It was only a matter of time. There’s now a Jesus Bot on Messenger — hallelujah! — and it’s one of our 5 bots to try this week. Jesus: Hold on one sec, just healing someone. Jesus: Greetings Blaise! Thou speakest to me, your lord and savior. But that’s also my Father, so you can […]

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Facebook buy button EverlaneWhy chatbots need deep learning

Bots are hot. Bots are coming. However, there are two distinct species both referred to as “bots.” 1. Intelligent virtual agents with conversational UI 2. No-smarts menu-driven programs with graphics UI that rely on on-screen buttons The first article of this series argued the latter have a number of serious disadvantages that make them virtually unacceptable. They […]

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Fight!

You will love this Siri versus Google Assistant infographic

Siri is the go-to personal assistant Apple iOS users are proud to have and rely on. It had nearly no competition in the world of smartphones with its speed, clarity, and accuracy — until Google Assistant entered the picture and turned the tables. On first glance, Siri and Google Assistant are very much alike. They […]

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Related coverage

Microsoft has a new AI chatbot and it doesn’t want to talk about Tay

Named Zo, the latest chatbot appeared on chat app Kik and is still “early access,” according to Microsoft, though anyone with Kik can start messaging the bot now. In our limited testing, much of what the bot says is similar to the bland and sometimes nonsensical musings spouted by other bots.. (via Mashable)

Read the full story

 

NoHold’s QuickStart lets anyone create a chatbot in seconds

Normally, this would take time, effort and the combined skills of a team of software developers. But Ventura was able to do this by feeding it the Amazon’s official Kindle Guidebook. And he was able to do this thanks to NoHold’s latest product, QuickStart. (via The Next Web)

Read the full story

 

After Trump’s Win, Secure Messaging App Signal’s Downloads Increase 400%

“I think there’s a lot of fear, given Trump’s alarming statements about surveillance and his penchant for revenge, that he will attempt to use surveillance to crush dissent.” (via Buzzfeed)

Read the full story

 

Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Copying The Chinese To Put Games On Facebook Messenger

Last Tuesday, Facebook launched a new “Instant Games” platform within its Messenger app. Instead of downloading yet another gaming app from Apple iTunes or Google Play, users can play games directly through Messenger, without leaving Facebook’s interface.. (via Forbes)

Read the full story

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