Last year we got to have a play around with Google Voice Actions, a voice-activated service which allowed us to bark instructions at our Nexus One. Things like ‘Send text to Andy Lim’ or ‘Call Kate Solomon’ and stuff like that.
Though we found it fun to use and could see some situations where Voice Actions would be invaluable – you’re driving and you want ask Google Maps Navigation for directions – we found that Voice Actions didn’t take kindly to this writer’s rhotic West Country timbres.
This led to all sorts of confusion, misunderstood commands, and in most cases we ended up simply not bothering with Voice Actions.
Thankfully, Google has been hard at work tweaking voice actions for good old British English along with French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Voice Actions is a feature that’s built in to Android 2.2 Froyo. It’s accessed by tapping the microphone icon on the Google Search box, or, if your phone has one, by holding down on the Search button for a couple of seconds.
It’s also available on Honeycomb tablets; the microphone icon is usually displayed top left next to the Google Search magnifying glass.
Over on its blog, Google has published a list of commands that are available with Voice Actions. These are:
- send text to [contact] [message]
- call [business]
- call [contact]
- go to [website]
- navigate to [location/business name]
- directions to [location/business name]
- map of [location]
Voice Actions can also be used to conduct a Google search using your voice, for stuff on the web or anything stored on your phone like a contact, or a music file if you want to play some music on the go.
Check out Google’s video for an idea of how this works. It features Robert Smith from another reality, if he hadn’t formed The Cure and became a technical support worker instead.