As a Software Engineer, I enjoy developing new stuff, and getting started with Google Action development had always been on my to-do list. In this blog, I present to you a very clean and nice way of creating your first Google Action.
Google Assistant is an Artificial Intelligence-powered virtual assistant developed by Google that is primarily available on mobile and smart home devices. Creating Google Actions allows you to develop and distribute your functionalities and integrate them with the power and reach of Google Assistant. Let’s start with your first action today.
There are no requirements to develop an action as such. The developed action can be tested on any of the Google Assistant-enabled devices like your mobile phone, Google Home, or even on Action’s console page itself!
Creating the Google Action project on Console
- Go to Google Action Console and log in using the email Id which you want to use for development and testing across all assistant enable devices.
- Click on the “new project” option. Try to give a good name to your project that will reflect on what your action will be doing.
- Next, you will be prompted to enter the kind of Action want to build. As a beginner, I recommend you choose “Custom”-> “Blank project”. This will allow you to create anything of your choice from the scratch. Although, you may opt for other options that consist of starter projects.
- Click on “Start building” and, voilà! You just created your first Google Action Console project.
Your action should specify how the task will be invoked. For example, Ok Google, talk to <display name>”. See GIF 1 below to understand how to give the invocation to your action.
To make things easier for your first action, let’s say you just want the action to greet you when you invoke it. This is the only required invocation for your Actions project. Users say a phrase similar to “Ok Google, talk to <display name>” to match this intent, which you typically handle by greeting the user with a welcome message.
The GIF below shows how to create a greeting invocation.
Testing the Action
This is perhaps the most important part of it all. I used to test my action every time I pressed the save button. You should make sure that the changes you make are reflected or not. To test, see the GIF below.
Just see how easy it is to test your action. You can also use your mobile phone with Google Assistant-enabled. Make sure that you log in to your mobile assistant with the same email id as the one used for the project.
Releasing the Action
Whenever you are ready with to release your action, just follow these steps:
- Go to the “Deploy” tab.
- Enter the necessary details like- Description, images, contact details, privacy & consent, invocation phrases.
- As you keep on adding images notice that on the left side of your screen you will be able to see how your action page will look like. Mine looked something like the figure.
- Once all necessary details are filled in, navigate to the “Release” option from the left side pane.
- Click on “Start new release”. You will be asked to select the type of release. Google Actions can be tested at various stages namely- Alpha, Beta, and Production. If you have built an action just to understand how actions work, you may skip alpha and beta release. Though, you can try to add your family or friends as alpha testers to let them use it for some time to find some potential bugs, before releasing it for the rest of the world.
- Let’s say you click on “Production” as the release channel. A checklist will be presented. I highly recommend you to check it out to ensure that your action does not violate any policies for Actions on Google.
- Finally, click on submit button and you just submitted your first Google Action for approval! Cheers to you, good job.
You will receive an acknowledgment email as soon as you submit the action for review. If your action is pretty straightforward and not very complicated, it should not take more than 3 days to get reviewed. Do not worry if your action is not approved the first time. It happened to me as well.
One thing which I personally loved about the Google Action review process is that the action reviewers will provide you a detailed description of why the action was not approved. They do not leave any scope of confusion and you can easily trace the issues, rectify them, and re-submit the action for review.
- Google Action console keeps on updating. So, the content of this blog may not match the portal when you create an action. Don’t worry though, they do not make very major changes.
- Also, the document should mention how you are collecting or storing user data. In case you are not, just mention the same. Make sure to be as transparent as possible in the privacy document.
- Kindly provide the sample invocation phrases using keywords like: “Speak to <display name>”, “Talk to <display name>”, or “Ask <display name>”. Your sample invocation should be properly structured.
- Ensure that the Action does not continuously play non-streaming media or reads back text to the user for longer than 240 seconds without using a media response.
In this blog, we learned how to build a very basic Google Action. We also talked in detail about the testing, release, and review process of the action. If you would like to see my action in action, go to your Google Assistant-enabled device and just say “Ok Google, talk to Tales of Kashua”. So, go ahead and try out building actions today, and do share the link of your action in the comment section. I will be more than happy to see that.
The author would like to thank Mr. Avinash Kumar Pandey for allowing the use of his stories in the making of this action. He is an avid writer and Tales of Kashua is a product of his imagination and personal experiences written down into a series of perfect stories.
 Build invocation models | Conversational Actions | Google Developers. (2021). Retrieved 16 June 2021, from https://developers.google.com/assistant/conversational/build/invocation
 Publish your Actions | Actions console | Google Developers. (2021). Retrieved 16 June 2021, from https://developers.google.com/assistant/console/publish#prepare