Google introduces Voice Actions for Android

Ronny Kerr · August 12, 2010 · Short URL:

Want to play a song? Write a note? Call a contact? Now Android users can speak their commands

Google just announced the launch of Voice Actions for Android, a series of spoken commands that users speak to perform tasks on their phone.

Noting that "the most natural way of interacting with a phone remains what it always has been" (speaking), Google hopes to streamline interaction with the mobile devices that seem to do everything for us, like play music, call contacts, search the Web, etc.

iPhone users have had this ability (in limited fashion) since June 2009, when the iPhone 3GS launched with Voice Control as an exclusive feature for making phone calls and controlling the iPod entirely with voice commands. Similarly, Android already has voice control for Google searches.

Voice Actions, however, take things a step further, providing support for all of the following commands:
  • 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]

Voice Actions 1      Voice Actions 2

Encompassing the most common daily functions carried out by smartphone users, Voice Actions could prove to be a very powerful tool (assuming the voice recognition software is up to snuff). The release of Voice Actions makes one wonder why Apple didn't offer similar support for the iPhone 4, as the update now puts Android well beyond the iPhone in terms of voice command capability.

Maybe Apple doesn't think the feature is as effective or groundbreaking as Google does. But then, it was Google that recently revealed that 25% of queries on Android 2.0 devices in the US are being made via search.

Voice Actions require Android 2.2 (Froyo), and will be pre-installed with the new Droid 2 phone from Motorola and Verizon. Voice Actions are currently available for U.S. English speakers. 

Owners of other Android 2.2 phones (like the Nexus One, HTC Evo or the original Droid) need to download Voice Search (which includes Voice Actions), the Google Search widget, and music apps (like Pandora,, Rdio, mSpot) to take full advantage of the new update.

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