We caught wind of the Google press conference this morning for its mobile front, and turns out the company is launching Voice Action. The feature will enable voice commands, searches and dictation for a number of apps and actions on Android devices.
Quick look at the features:
Send texts using only your voice
Direct calling for businesses (an extension of search)
Dictation for email and other text fields
Conduct actions/tasks on your phone (launch and interact with apps)
* send text to [contact] [message]
* listen to [artist/song/album]
* call [business]
* call [contact]
* send email to [contact] [message]
* go to [website]
* note to self [note]
* navigate to [location/business name]
* directions to [location/business name]
* map of [location]
The new Voice Action will come pre-installed on the Droid 2, and its Voice Search app will also be available starting today.
Implications around the new features demonstrate Google’s desire to deeply integrate with its Android platform, utilizing the device itself as a tool. What’s promising about Google’s direction with this is the ability to improve a device’s capabilities without having to create a new device entirely, though that hasn’t stopped manufactures from front-loading us with smart phones running Android, has it.
Voice Action also speaks to growing consumer demand around smart phone functions from a usability standpoint. A number of apps have already been developed around speech-recognition, most specific to email and text messaging, or tweeting. Many of these also have text-to-speech capabilities, so the voice interaction between you and your phone isn’t a one-sided relationship. I’m guessing Google will be looking into this functionality for more integrated applications, especially as most of the speech-recognition apps on android use Google Voice for the added capability.
For the devices themselves, Voice Action provides a solution that will help the movement towards redesigned mobile devices. T-Mobile got a week’s worth of publicity with its Genius Button on the Android-powered myTouch, promoting the smart phone as one that makes you more productive as you more readily access information.
However, the voice-recognition and -enabled apps on Android were mostly less than stellar until now–I’d nearly lost hope all together. The next challenge for Google is to find the best ways to keep its devices and consumers on track with OS updates and app offerings. Google’s already sneaked in some Chrome integration with another mobile update this morning. Centralizing its Android platform efforts across its various supported devices is going to be a massive but necessary undertaking–there’s no turning back.