Right at the moment, Google is holding a mobile-related press conference where it introduced "Voice Actions for Android". Since mobile phones have become more or less modern-day Swiss Army knives and Android phones are a handheld computer, a music player, a notepad, a GPS navigation unit and more, all rolled into one sleek device that fits in the pocket. Even though smartphones do all these new things, the most natural way of interacting with a phone remains what it always has been: Speaking. Therefore Google is pleased to introduce Voice Actions for Android. Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice.
Call businesses and contacts, send texts and E-Mail, listen to music, browse the Web and complete common tasks, all just by speaking into your phone. To use Voice Actions, tap the microphone button on the Google search box on your home screen, or press down for a few seconds on the physical search button on your phone to activate the "Speak Now" screen.
Google Voice Actions for Android supports any of the following commands:
- Send text to [contact] [message]
- Listen to [artist/song/album]
- Call [business]
- Call [contact]
- Send E-Mail to [contact] [message]
- Go to [Website]
- Note to self [note]
- Navigate to [location/business name]
- Directions to [location/business name]
- Map of [location]
Furthermore, Google is also releasing an updated version of the Google search widget for Android. When a user types a local search query, like "Italian restaurants" he'll see suggested restaurants with addresses and ratings. Also, as the queries are typed, users can refine them further by tapping the pencil icon that appears to the right of search suggestions.
Both Voice Actions and the new Google search widget require Android 2.2/Froyo and will be pre-installed with the new Droid 2 from Motorola and Verizon. Voice Actions are currently available for U.S. English speakers only. Other phones with Android 2.2 (like the Nexus One, HTC Evo or the original Droid) can download several app updates from Android Market to get all the latest goodness:
- Voice Search (this app includes Voice Actions)
- Google Search widget
- Music apps (e.g. Pandora, Last.fm, Rdio, mSpot)
As always, all the applications above are available free of charge!
Cheers ~ Arne