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Google Voice Actions Comes to Android


Star Trek has just got a little bit closer to reality with the release of Voice Actions for Android. This enables users to perform a number of tasks, such as sending a text, searching the internet or finding directions, entirely by voice.

Voice Actions ties in with Google Maps so say, search for a local business and dial it for you without any other input other than voice. There are 13 actions available in total, so you can now dictate an email or even leave a note to yourself.

The software is available for any phone running Android 2.2 or above, and will require downloading Google Voice Search, the Google Search widget and a compatible music app such as Last FM from the Android Store.

Google has released a very impressive demo of the app in action, hosted by lead engineer for Voice Actions Mike LeBeau.

However, it could prove to be a bit of a damp squib for UK users though, as the existing Google Voice Search struggles with non-US English, and it’s the same story here. The UK and the US are divided by a common language, as ever.

The update will help Google battle Apple’s iOS4, whose voice capabilities now seem rather tame by comparison. Google’s product manager Hugo Barra told the BBC that one in four searches conducted on Android is done using a voice search.

Google has also announced “Chrome to Phone”, which pushes links, websites and direction from Chrome on the desktop to your Android device, so you can pick up and carry on where you left off when going mobile.

Link: Google Voice blog post.

Link: Chrome to Phone blog post.


August 13, 2010, 3:43 pm

Tried messing around with it and not that impressed. Couldn't get it to write a text or email although navigate and directions worked fine. Why do you need the search widget though? Just long press the search button.

Chrome to phone is awesome though and very useful.


August 13, 2010, 5:36 pm

Yeah, I've tried playing with it and it just doesn't work reliably, presumably because I don't sound like an American.

I'd give Chrome to Phone a try if only I had a Desire with Froyo. :'(


August 13, 2010, 5:39 pm

Agree, it isn't that useful yet. Perhaps I need a better US accent? It's a nice toy but needs to mature a little more.

Chrome to phone is good. I use the Firefox plugin and its a great way to pass directions etc direct to your phone.


August 13, 2010, 5:44 pm

I have tried it on my HD2 with Froyo - the navigation and directions work pretty well, but all other voice commands just come out with random results.

Saying 'Call Joe Bloggs' results in a web search for 'Cool Joe Bloggs' - wearing a clothes peg on my nose didn't help either. The 'email' voice tag doesn't work at all. I'm pretty sure that voice recognition technology will never be on any practical use for at least another 20 years, it cannot cope with any ambuguity in tone, pitch or variations in word ordering and inflection, the computing power required to actually interpret what was the intended required response from messy, imprecise and sometimes inaccurate input data would be huge. Almost as much thought process as when the other half asks 'Does my bum look big in this', or 'doesn't my friend look pretty in that dress'? There is no correct answer!


August 13, 2010, 6:12 pm

Yeah it hates my N.irish accent. I bet the americans are loving this though. He seemed to talk pretty quickly


August 13, 2010, 6:24 pm

I notice that Lifethroughalens says he has android on his hd2, is that now available?


August 13, 2010, 6:56 pm

@Flatline: No, not officially :)



August 13, 2010, 7:11 pm

@Flatline - noted your sceptical tone of phrase :}

It's been available for a while for those that tinker. I have found the current build to be 100% usable and 99% dependable, (ie much better than the official WM6.5 FW) with a few very minor issues here and there. It's also very fast and smooth running. This is exactly how the HD2 should have been available in the first place and has given this excellent bit of hardware an 1 year + extension in shelf life. (fingers crossed for Gingerbread too).

http://gamesquare.co.uk/ (all relevant links to forums are on this page too).

Stephen Nelson

August 14, 2010, 3:28 pm

strangely when I first was trying this out I was getting no response when trying to send texts etc, however having gone into the settings and changed the language from UK English to US English, which then allowed me to send texts pretty accurately, as well as use all the other voice actions... weird really... wondering if the same worked for anyone else...


August 15, 2010, 7:55 pm

@Stephen Nelson: Thanks mate, I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why actions like "send text" and "go to" weren't being picked up (it recognised what I said, but tried to put it through Google Search instead). Changing the input language to US English solved the problem... I guess these voice actions just aren't available for the UK English dictionary for some reason.


August 16, 2010, 11:52 am

+1 for nelson - well spotted - I too wondered why it wasnt working...

Strangely when you try to set the Alarm by speaking - it says it needs an updated version of the clock application - which isn't actually currently available in the marketplace :(


August 16, 2010, 3:25 pm

Great spot Nelson, thanks - that made a big difference. It still can't understand my voice actions but at least it opens the email app now. I have the same issue with the alarm feature - although this does appear to be an issue being worked on by Google.


August 16, 2010, 11:17 pm

thanks to all for the help. I must admit to using xda to load an Energy Rom. But its so complicated for a novice. still, managed it



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