Google brings voice-based control to smartphones and tablets

16 Sep 2011

Google is bringing out a new series of spoken commands that lets users control their Android phone or tablet with their voices, for example to make phone calls, go to websites and seek navigation directions.

The new voice commands will be available to users in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain who can now use Voice Actions in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Google introduced voice commands for controlling devices in the US earlier this year.

To use Voice Actions, users just need to tap the microphone button on the Google search box on their home screens, open the Voice Search app, or press down for a few seconds on the physical search button on their phones to activate the “Speak Now” screen.

The new capabilities mean users can speak any of these commands to perform a Voice Action on their smartphones:

  • 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 is available on phones and tablets running Android 2.2 and higher. If you don’t have Voice Search on your phone yet, you can download it from Android Market – if you do have Voice Search, you can just start using Voice Actions,” explained Bertrand Damiba, product manager, in the Google Mobile Blog.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years