Choose your account linking type

The optimal account linking type for your Action is one that provides the simplest experience for your users and fits the needs of your application or business. Choosing your linking type is mostly dependent on the following factors:

  • Whether you want to allow account creation via voice
  • Whether you want users to be able to sign in to your service with a non-Google account
  • Whether or not your service can store confidential information (i.e., a client secret)

To figure out your ideal account linking type, follow these steps:

  1. Consider the questions in the Identify your preferred sign-in type section.
  2. Consult the decision tree to choose your linking type.
  3. Navigate to the section that corresponds to the initial type you chose to further refine how it works.

Identify your preferred sign-in type

Before you consult the decision tree, consider the following questions:

  • Do you expect all your users to have a Google account?
    • If your Action only targets the Assistant, then you can expect all your users to have a Google account. If your Action targets platforms beyond the Assistant, you cannot expect all your users to have a Google account.
    • If your service already has existing users, it’s likely that some don’t have a Google account or didn’t sign into your service with a Google account.
  • If you have an OAuth implementation, can it be extended to support Google protocol?
    • To support Google protocol, you need to be able to add the intent=get and intent=create functionality to your token exchange endpoint. This functionality allows Google to check if the user already exists in your backend and make a request to create a new account on your service, respectively.

Follow the decision tree below to identify the account linking type that’s optimal for you and your users:

Once you select a linking type, continue to the corresponding section below to learn more about how it works and make further decisions about how account linking works in your Action.

OAuth and Google Sign-In

The OAuth and Google Sign-In (GSI) linking type adds GSI on top of OAuth-based account linking, which provides the benefits of GSI (for example, voice-based linking for Google users) while also enabling account linking for users who registered to your service with a non-Google account. This linking type is especially advantageous for end users because it provides a low-friction flow for Google users with a fallback for non-Google users. For more information about how the OAuth and GSI linking type works, see the OAuth and Google Sign-In concept guide.

Refine the OAuth and Google Sign-In linking type

When you use the OAuth and GSI account linking type in your Action, you specify the answers to the following questions in the Actions console to define how it works:

  1. Do you want to enable voice account creation or only allow account creation on your website?

    Generally, you should enable account creation via voice so that users on a non-screened device can create an account without having to transfer to another device. If you do not allow account creation via voice, the Assistant opens the URL to the web site that you provided for user authentication and directs the user to a phone to continue the account linking flow.

    However, you should not allow account creation via voice if any of the following applies:

    1. You need full control of the account creation flow. For example, you may need to show your terms of service to the user during account creation or some other type of notice.
    2. You want to ensure that users who already have an account with you sign in with that account. For example, you may want users to continue using their existing accounts if you offer a loyalty program and don’t want the user to lose the points accrued on their account.
  2. Do you want to use the authorization code flow or implicit flow?

    The authorization code flow and implicit flow differ in that the authorization code flow requires a second endpoint, the token exchange endpoint. This endpoint uses refresh tokens to generate new, short-lived access tokens without prompting the user to sign in again.

    Conversely, if you use the implicit flow, you return a long-lived access token to Google that usually does not need to be re-generated. For more information about the authorization code and implicit flows, see the OAuth and Google Sign-In concept guide.

    Google recommends using the authorization code flow in your Action because it is more secure. However, use the implicit flow instead if your service can’t store confidential information (i.e., a client secret). For example, you must use the implicit flow for public clients like single-page applications (SPAs).

After considering these decision points, consult the following decision tree:

Google Sign-In

With the GSI linking type, your Action can request access to your user’s Google profile during a conversation and use the profile information to check if the user exists in your service’s backend. If the user doesn’t exist, they can create a new account in your system using their Google profile information.

For GSI, you must enable account creation via voice, which lets the user complete the entire flow over voice. For more information about GSI, see the Google Sign-In concept guide.

OAuth

With the OAuth linking type, the user signs in with the standard OAuth 2 flow. The OAuth linking type supports two industry-standard OAuth 2.0 flows: the implicit and authorization code flows.

Google does not recommend the OAuth linking type by itself because it requires transferring the user from voice to screen to complete the sign-in process if the user is on a non-screened device. You can consider using this flow if you have an existing implementation of an OAuth 2 server, and you cannot extend the token exchange endpoint to add support for Google’s protocols for automatic linking and account creation from an ID token. For more information, see the OAuth concept guide.

Refine the flow

When you use the OAuth account linking type in your Action, you must specify the answer to the following question in the Actions console to define how it works:

  1. Do you want to use the authorization code flow or implicit flow?

    The OAuth linking type supports two industry-standard OAuth 2.0 flows: the implicit and authorization code flows. The authorization code flow and implicit flow differ in that the authorization code flow requires a second endpoint, the token exchange endpoint. This endpoint uses refresh tokens to generate new, short-lived access tokens without prompting the user to sign in again.

    Conversely, if you use the implicit flow, you return a long-lived access token to Google that usually does not need to be re-generated. For more information about the authorization code and implicit flows, see the OAuth concept guide.

    Google recommends using the authorization code flow in your Action because it is more secure. However, use the implicit flow instead if your service can’t store confidential information (i.e., a client secret). For example, you must use the implicit flow for public clients like single-page applications (SPAs).