Google Assistant is closing another gap with Alexa today. In a blog post, Google says that it will begin rolling out Routines for its digital helper.
If you’re not familiar with routines, they’re similar to, but more powerful than smart home shortcuts. You can program different actions with a key difference over standard shortcuts: Routines can handle multiple actions with a single command.
For example, I have one called “Relaxation mode” that dims the lights in my office and also tune my office Sonos to New Age music. Instead of using two shortcuts or voice commands, I have both actions happen with a single command. You can even add more actions to a routine, such as dimming lights, closing your shades and firing up Netflix on the TV for a “Movie night” routine.
Alexa already has Routines and Google says it will be rolling them out for its product line in the coming weeks. I can’t wait. Until then, I’ve had to use a third-party app to tie multiple actions to a command. In my case, “Relaxation mode” is a custom routine I set up in a fantastic app called Yonomi. You can accomplish similar results with IFTTT and Stringify.
Here’s the thing though: What happens to these third party services once the major platforms all have native routines?
Granted, some of the native routine support may be limited, so there might still be room for a Yonomi, IFTTT or Stringify. In fact, Google today said “you’ll be able to use six routines that help with your morning, commutes to and from work, and evening at home.” That leads me to believe Google’s first implementation will be somewhat limited. So I’m not uninstalling Yonomi just yet.
Regardless, it’s likely that native integrations and expanded functionality will take the place of third-party services so they’ll either have to pivot, adapt or maybe even go away. Perhaps one of them is purchased since they all have solid user bases and, for the most part, easy to use interfaces.
Stringify is already off the block since it was purchased by Comcast in September. Unless Comcast wants to keep the brand alive, I think Stringify will simply melt into Comcast’s Xfinity smart home line.
I recently suggested that IFTTT would be a smart buy for Amazon. We’ll see if that happens. That would actually leave Yonomi as a prime Google target and since I’m already a Yonomi user with multiple Google Home products, I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen.
In any case, I don’t see much of a long-term future for a standalone, third-party smart home integration service for two reasons: Routines are becoming native features in assistants and because the digital assistant platforms have quickly worked to integrate with as many apps, services and devices as they can.