Posted by Neto Marin - Actions on Google Developer Advocate
There are millions of apps in the Android ecosystem, so helping yours get discovered can require some investment. Your app needs to offer something that differentiates it from other similar apps to stand out to users.
Building a companion Action is a fast and simple way to increase your Android app's potential reach by creating a new entrypoint from devices covered by the Google Assistant. This lets you bring your services to users without needing to install anything through voice, and can bring people into your app when it can provide more value.
Your companion Action complements your Android app's experience by offering some of your services through the Google Assistant, which is available on more than 500 million devices including speakers, phones, cars, headphones, and more. Creating an Action provides a frictionless way for users to start engaging with your services wherever the Google Assistant is available.
Creating an Action for the Assistant will extend your brand presence, bringing your services to new devices and contexts as users interact with the Google Assistant.
Feature what your app does better
It is probably a mistake to try to rewrite all of your Android app as a conversational Action, since voice is a different modality with different constraints and usage patterns. Instead, you should start by selecting the most important or popular features in your app that translate well into a voice context and can be more easily accomplished there. Then, you can create your conversational experience to offer these features on Google Assistant devices. Check out the Conversation design site, which has several articles and guides about how to create a great voice UI.
Let's take a look at a hypothetical example. Imagine you have a mobile commerce app. Some features include searching for products, navigating to different categories, adding payment information, and checking out. You could build an Action for the Assistant with most of the same functionality, but we encourage you to look for what makes the most sense in a conversational experience.
In this case, your Action could focus on everything that a user would want to know after they've purchased a product through your Android app or web page. You could offer a quick way to get updates about a purchase's status (if you provide different states for payment/purchase process) and shipment information, or provide an interface for re-ordering a user's favorite products. Then, your users would be able to ask something like, "Hey Google, ask Voice Store about my last purchase."
Or, to reach users who have never made a purchase before, you could create an Action to offer exciting deals for common products. For example, you could create an Action that is invoked with, "Hey Google, ask Voice Store what are the deals on TVs today".
As you can see, starting with a "hero" use case for your Action is an exciting way to introduce conversational features that complement your Android app, and it will take less time than you think.
At Google I/O 2018, we presented a talk, "Integrating your Android apps with the Google Assistant" which contains more details and examples for developers.
Delivering user's purchases across surfaces
In-app purchases, subscriptions, and one-time products have proven successful for Android developers when it comes to monetization, allowing developers to offer different kinds of digital goods and additional value for paying users. These types of monetization are proven to drive user conversion and make the app more profitable.
Google Play Billing offers a series of tools, APIs, and documentation to help developers manage the subscription life-cycle, build server-side validation, and much more. If you are new to in-app billing, check out the Google Play Billing Overview page.
Now, Android developers can expand where users can access these goods or upgraded experiences by offering them through Actions, as well. This expansion is accomplished by honoring the user's entitlements on Google Play across different surfaces and devices, reaching users when they can't (or don't want to) use an app, like while cooking or driving.
For non-Android platforms, you'll need to ask your users to link their accounts. You can then use your user's account history to identify what purchases they've made on other surfaces.
Check the Accessing Digital Purchases page for a step-by-step guide on how to enable access to the user's purchases and request and parse the purchase data.
If you are not familiar with Actions on Google yet, start by checking out our overview page, which describes the platform in detail and tells you all you need to know to create your Actions for the Google Assistant.
Stay tuned for more posts about how to improve your Android app experience with Actions on Google.
Thanks for reading!