About a dozen new Google Assistant actions have been made available in recent days, including a baby activity monitor and a train tracker for San Francisco’s BART system.
More than 30 new actions have been added for Google Assistant in the course of the past week, representing the largest addition of new services since the platform at the end of 2016.
New actions added last week include a beer guide, slang dictionary, and some that draw on Hindu and Christian scripture.
All of the 118 skills available today have been added since the launch of the Actions on Google platform last December.
By comparison, Alexa has more than 10,000 skills made by third party developers. That may seem like a lot, but ecosystems can grow fast. This time last year, Alexa had a little over 100 skills.
Among the Google Assistant actions added in recent days is Baby Stats for logging and tracking baby activity like when they eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom. I wonder just how helicopter-y parents will get when an action like this is mixed with a virtual assistant especially made for parents or emerging wearable devices for babies.
Life Stories, based on the fairly large database from fmylife.com, may be the funniest action available today. Drawing from a community of human misery, Life Stories rattles off random and top stories of failures and misfortune in the tradition of FML online, things like: “Today my dog ate a whole case of my son’s paint balls because apparently they are made of a fish byproduct. Not only does the whole house smell like fish, there are countless bright yellow dog turds all over the house and our yard. F*ck my life.”
Warning: This action contains a fair deal of mature content, like the F word.
Like Life Stories and the World Air Quality Index, the Artsy action rests on a lush dataset. Made by Artsy, the Art Genome Project is a collection of more than 1,000 biographies of prominent artists from Raphael to Ai Weiwei. Can’t wait for this action to include descriptions of art periods and styles so I can show off to my friends and talk about the difference between Renaissance and Byzantine art styles.
Danish Games action will give the latest Euro Jackpot or Danish lottery numbers.
San Francisco finally got its own public transportation action with SF Transit. Just ask when the next BART train is leaving the station near you and it will rattle off a list of trains leaving within the next 30 minutes.
Getting around London should be super easy now. With Departure Mate and Line Status, there are now four different Google Assistant actions to help you ride the London Tube. Other public transit actions will help you catch a bus in Dublin, Singapore, and New Zealand.
Finally, the Weather Sky action, from the makers of the Dark Sky smartphone app, gives you information based on weather anywhere in the United States. That’s pretty simple — Google Assistant can already do that — but Weather Sky can give you information about weather anywhere in the U.S. in the past.
So if you ask questions like “What was the weather like June 1, 1965 in Wichita, Kansas?,” after a time travel sound effect the skill will say “The weather was mostly cloudy and the temperature was 78 degrees. There was a moderate breeze with winds at 15 mph from the southwest and most of the sky was covered by clouds. The air felt quite humid at the time, with a relative humidity of 70 percent and there was rain in the area. Visibility was 10 miles. Rain was active in the area and began at approximately 10 a.m. The rain stopped after two hours at about noon.”
The action goes on like this for another 30 seconds, talking about high and low temperatures, sunrise and sunset, and the stage of the lunar cycle that day.
All this information may not be of practical value to everyone, but it’s fun to recall memorable days in your life or family history and then ask the skill what the weather was at the time. It sort of helps paint a better picture in your mind of what that day was like.
In other recent Google Assistant news, last week the intelligent assistant was made available to millions of Android smartphone users who have the Marshmallow or Nougat operating system, and Pullstring brought the ability to make Google Assistant actions to its bot-making platform. New features were also brought to Allo, the chat app with Google Assistant as its main feature.
Right now, Google Assistant third-party actions like the kinds listed above are only available on Google Home smart speakers.