In the first release of the calendar year, Home Assistant Core 2023.1 will add a proper integration with the Google Assistant. This integration allows you to broadcast messages to Google Assistant speakers and displays without interrupting music or video playback. In addition, it might also allow you to integrate the last couple of unsupported, devices you have in your smart home, with Home Assistant.
If you were a user of the now abandoned Assistant Relay, this should be music to your ears. Everything Assistant Relay was able to do, will now be possible right in Home Assistant, without having to install any third-party applications.
How the Google Assistant SDK integration with Home Assistant works
Instead of using Google Cast to send messages to a speaker, the new integration with Google Home and other Google Assistant smart speakers and screens will broadcast the message. This means that any music that had been playing on the device, will continue doing so.
Home Assistant can do this by taking advantage of the Google Assistant SDK. The SDK allows anyone to bring the Assistant to any non-commercial, hardware projects. Setting up the Google Assistant SDK integration in Home Assistant will essentially turn the latter into a Google Home device.
It is because Home Assistant acts as a Google Home device, it can execute Google Assistant Actions. Consequently, any devices you have linked to your Google account, can also be controlled by Home Assistant. For example, you could control your Imou robot vacuum cleaner, which doesn't natively integrate with Home Assistant, using text commands sent to the Google Assistant.
Downsides of the Google Assistant SDK integration with Home Assistant
There are a couple of downsides to this integration, some of which concern Home Assistant, others the Google Assistant. As you might already be aware of, Google is shutting down Conversational Actions, leading to many Google Assistant Actions being removed. Google is also said to be reducing the amount invested in the Assistant, which might lead to further features being removed over time.
The most noticeable downside of this integration, you will come to realize as soon as you set it up: it is slightly complex. For the integration to work, you will need developer credentials. Luckily, Home Assistant does provide very detailed instructions on how to do this.