Google releases Actions SDK for Google Home and Assistant

Today Google released the Actions Api and documentation for the Google Assistant which powers the google Home.  While the Api is now available  your actions won’t be available to the public until next year.

Your actions won’t need to be installed as you would on amazon Echo’s Alexa Skills.  Users would just say a conversational phrase asking for the action by name, i.e ok google let me talk to personal chef.

Check out the introductory video below on the you tube channel.

You can write your own parsers to parse the text spoken by the user or use API.AI which was recently acquired by google to build out user interface.

Early partners that will be launching in the weeks to come are Quora, WebMD, Lonely Planet, NPR One and Buzz Feed to name a few.  Purchases and Bookings will follow as well.

The documentation can be found at where you can also sign up to begin your Google Assistant development.

What’s new in Android 7.1.1 Nougat

As the Android 7.1.1 update started rolling out yesterday I thought it was time to take a look at what is new for developers in this release.  The update is an incremental increase that builds on features released in the build on the Pixel devices.

For us developers the major consumer related features you may want to build for are App Shortcuts,Image Keyboard SupportRound Icons.

App Shortcuts

If your app targets Android 7.1 or higher you can define shortcuts to specific actions in your app.  These shortcuts can be displayed in a supported launcher and let users quickly start common tasks in your app.

Image Keyboard Support

SDK Api level 25 provides the Commit Content API which provides a universal way for input method editors (IME) to send images and other right content directly to a text editor in an app.

With this api you can build messaging apps that accept rich content from any keyboard as well as send rich content to any app.

Rounded Icon

Apps can now define circular launcher icons which are used on devices that support them.  Currently that is only the Pixel line.  When a launcher requests an app icon the framework returns either andorid:icon or android:roundIcon depending on the device configuration.

For Details on the API differences check out the API Diffs for more information.

Web Sockets come to OkHttp v3.5

Today Jake Wharton posted an announcement on his medium blog that OkHttp version 3.5 released today includes support for Web Sockets.

Web Sockets  provide full-duplex communication channels over a single tcp connection and is being standardized by the W3C.  The can be used to implement client server web based applications.

With the update to the library you create a new web socket by passing a request tot he newWebSocket() method along with a listener for messages sent by the server.

Web Sockets now shipping in OkHttp 3.5! – Square Corner Blog – Medium

OkHttpClient client = new OkHttpClient();
Request request = //...
WebSocketListener listener = //...
WebSocket ws = client.newWebSocket(request, listener);

To use version 3.5 in your application add the library to your build.gradle file using the follinw line or via the Android Studio Dependencies tab in the Project Structure Dialog.

compile com.squareup.okhttp3:okhttp:3.5.0