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Google Starts to Monetize Voice By Bringing Paid Digital Goods, Subscriptions to Google Assistant

Google Home
Courtesy of Google

Google is making it easier for developers to earn money with voice experiences: Developers are now able to charge their users for digital goods via Google’s Assistant, the search giant announced Wednesday. These new monetization options will be available both through devices like the Google Home smart speaker, as well as Google Assistant-powered smart displays and phones.

One of the companies making use of the new monetization feature out of the gate is meditation services provider Headspace, which now lets users of its service subscribe to its paid tier with simple voice commands.

Another scenario highlighted by Google Wednesday: “Castle Master,” an interactive audio adventure for smart speakers and other devices with access to the Google Assistant, now lets users buy add-on packs to unlock additional gameplay through one-time purchases.

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Courtesy of Google

Developers who have built both voice experiences for the Google Assistant as well as an Android app can also let users access paid digital goods in both contexts. Paid digital goods are thus far only available in the U.S., but Google said that it plans to roll them out in additional countries soon.

Google announced this path to monetize voice experiences as it unveiled a revamped Google Assistant experience on mobile, where users will now have it easier to switch back and forth between using their voice and touch.

“Since the Google Assistant made its debut, we’ve noticed that nearly half of all interactions with the Assistant today include both voice and touch,” said voice actions group PM Tarun Jain in a  blog post Wednesday. “With this redesign, we’re making the Assistant more visually assistive for users, combining voice with touch in a way that gives users the right controls in the right situations.”