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May
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This is the latest in our Weekend Poll series. For last week's, see Follow Up: Is Gaming On Android Lackluster?

Though voice control apps have been around for quite some time, it took Apple's release of Siri to bring the functionality to the mainstream. Now, competing manufacturers are trying to push out similar services. Samsung's first to the punch with a Vlingo-based "S Voice" service, though it remains to be seen how well it works. Google, too, is rumored to be working on improved Google Voice Actions, reportedly named Assistant.

Debates over the usefulness of voice control have cropped up around the Android Police offices before, with the team fairly split on the topic. What are your thoughts - is it just a temporary fad, or is it the future?

Voice Control Apps: Future Or Fad?

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Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • FirefighterMatt56

    Right now, I think its a fad. Ultimately, it will be our future though.

  • Torbjörn Lööv

    As long as its not available in the language corresponding to the country you live, its of no practical use what so ever.

  • Kees Kluskens

    I think the idea is brilliant and certainly has a future, but the speech recognition is just not good enough (yet). In order to be successful, it has to be flawless.

  • Toshistation

    It has a long way to go before it reaches the Star Trek level of usefulness, where you can actually interact in a meaningful way with a computerized persona. But we'll see if Majel changes that. #highhopes!

    • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

      Is it too much for me to hope that Majel is ready for I/O this year and that it'll live up to rumors?

      • Simon Belmont

        I'm with you, man! I really want to hear about that next month.

        We can only hope that we will. Hopefully, by the end of the year at latest if not next month!

  • Dd

    I voted future, as in 'when they're sufficiently advanced enough to understand what the hell we're saying'.

  • Mike

    It would be pretty cool if it worked as well as siri does in the commercials. not anywhere close to that it would seem.

    • skitchbeatz

      If that's not false advertising then I don't know what is.

    • Josh

      Siri doesn't work like the commercial lol.

  • Josh

    I believe it has it uses, like using the phone while driving, but it's still to early. I believe it is future though.

  • Palmer Nyako

    Obviously future?
    Really guys you think its a fad, where it'll only get better as time goes on?? ROFL.

    • deX

      It has very limited general usage. The only two main instances I can think when this is of use is when your driving or otherwise occupied with your hands, or you're a special needs person. But as it stands right now is that it's a fad because
      1) Battery technology hasn't been able to keep the same pace asrest ofmobile tech. No one wants tohave avoice recognprocess activeall the time, waiting for commands, draining the battery.

      2) Still quite inaccurate. Can't pick up many accents and mixed accents, for example.

      3) Talking to your phone is just plain silly! I've seen some iSheep do it on the streets and I couldn't stop laughing. They looked so ridiculous shouting at the phone to find them the nearest ATM , when they could have simply asked any of us or just typed it in.

      teddy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

    Useless to me now due to lack of integration with 3rd party apps and no active listening all the time but absolutely the future. Y'all need to watch more sci fi.

  • David

    Two words: Star Trek

  • Hinds2009

    Android has had voice functionality for quite a while. Just because crapple advertise and that's all it is that people know of. Iike the functionality of voice actions and hope that majel takes it to another level.

  • http://twitter.com/KennyO112 Kenny Otero

    The big thing for me would be the ability to access/open the voice controlled app when the phone is locked - and without being too much of a strain on the battery. S Voice looks promising, but in it seems a bit slow - of course I'm using it on a phone it's not meant for, so I'll reserve my opinion until I see how it runs on the SGS3. 

  • Jeromy

    With laws coming out banning cell phone use while driving, I think this will have a future since people will be able to still use their phone without being seen holding it.

  • Ravrahn

    It's the future, but not in it's current form, ie. on a phone. It's going to be very important when the age of Google Glass and other smart headgear dawns.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Aaron, like Hinds2009 pointed out, Android has had Voice Control for a long time prior to iOS, it was one of the top selling points along with Navigation since the fairly early days.  It's a little unfair to give credit to Apple for something they don't deserve, that's Apple's job ;)

    More to the point, I think voice control is an inevitable feature that every device will have and they will all function about the same and with relatively perfect comprehension.  That's the future...today it's not there, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't use it or be excited/interested in what's coming out.  Of course, Like the touch screen, the mouse, and countless other things, once it's a common it will be relegated to the status of a standard tool instead of a major feature.  We're talking about it today, but 5 years from now I think we'll already be forgetting what it was like to not talk to our phones.

  • http://twitter.com/PCSievers P.C. Sievers

    I voted fad because I think anyone who believes this will be a widespread tool are nuts but it definitely has a niche it can fill - namely times when using your hands would be bad such as while driving.

  • http://digg.com/users/OmegaWolf Silver Fang

    Fad. Voice control to me is more cumbersome than just touching and typing.

  • Hanz Y

    THis is the future, voice controlled everything.  This is only the beginning stage.  No way this is a fad.  Think Star Trek...

    • Simon Belmont

      Agreed. Exactly how I envision it.

      In fact, it's what I've dreamed of since I was a child. Can't wait for this.

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    People text message so others don't hear their conversations. Most people don't want their interactions with their phone to be heard either. Useful in the car maybe, but other than that no way.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Future for sure, and already is reality IMO. I use Voice Actions for navigation a whole lot more than I type in destinations manually already. I also use Evi, which is pretty good at answering various questions. Not 100% there - none of them are, even Siri, but already very helpful.If Majel/Assistant is real, I'm ready for it to become an even better reality. Not one where everyone walks around and talks into their phones in the street, but one where I can talk to my phone in the car without ever looking, thinking twice, or touching the screen. One where Assistant would be aware of the previous queries and respond differently based on them.I'm ready for that, now. Voice controls are not a fad, they're a [so far] poorly implemented dream that most of us have had since we were children and started watching SciFi movies.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Also a big one - voice commands need to be interpreted on the fly, in a streaming fashion rather than have a device wait until we stop speaking. I hate this about my car's voice input - you can only speak at a certain point for which you have to wait for ages, and then you have to stay quiet at the end and wait a few more seconds for the input to be accepted (oftentimes wrong). This needs to change - nobody has done it right yet.

      • Simon Belmont

        It seems like Google has a head start on this with it's latest voice dictation from ICS. Something that I love to use because it's fast.

        That type of voice interpretation coupled with intelligent querying would make for a more rewarding system to use. I hope we see this soon.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jonbethea Jonathan Bethea

      Totally agree, anyone who votes fad cant see the future where voice control is used everywhere.

      i cant wait until its done right

    • Munsoned

      I am in total agreement.
      I think it’s going to be a fad for the everyday consumer; preteen to the 30 something people. On the other hand, I think for the on the go business type, 25 to 50 something consumer, this could prove to be a very useful tool. Voice operated software has been around for, I think, a decade or more now. To have this ability to go mobile could be a bonus to the business market, and could very well spawn other apps/software. Then, to make it intuitive, like a computer assistant. This could make administrative assistance null and void over the next decade. To be able to talk to someone and cut the human response time down to fractions of a second, have it be connected to your work mainframe and accessing you database. This is stuff that sci-fi dreams are made of.
       
      Let’s think back to all the movies and shows we watched as a kid. The one that has seemed to stick out (at the moment) with today’s technology is the tablet/iPad. Now I know the movie isn’t something we all remember, but Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. When Rufus (George Carlin’s character) was talking about the influence of Wild Stallions in the future, they flash forward to his time period. What are they walking around with, and studying on? Portable computer screens that look like clear glass. This was a movie from 1989. Now, I’m sure there are better movie references, but I think you get my point. Moving to today, another tablet reference, a friend’s 6 year old kids school is making it optional to save on text books for the parents and making them available in PDF format, accessible via download to a tablet. My friends are looking into getting their child a Kindle Fire.
       
      So, to say intuitive voice command response is a fad, is just plan ignorant. Probably a sign of someone that can’t handle change. To which case I would suggest any naysayers to read “Who Moved My Cheese.”
      Then again, these FAD FOLLOWERS finding it a novelty asking questions like "SIRI, what is the meaning of life?" and getting a variety of answers other than "42." Probably will never find an everyday use for such technology until they are forced to. IMO

    • Simon Belmont

      We're on the same page, Artem. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement.

      In fact, everything you've said is what I've also imagined the forthcoming Google Assistant to take care of. I'm pretty sure there is no doubt that Project Majel/Google Assistant is real and, hopefully, we'll gain some insight into it at Google I/O.

  • Chris Smith

    It's a fad. Thought control will replace it!

  • lordmerovingian

    Well for folks who stutter/stammer bad like me, a definite fad.

    • Simon Belmont

      I'm going to guess that it will have routines to understand you even given those circumstances. Of course, that will likely be a bit further down the road.

      Hopefully, it wouldn't just constantly ask if you "meant this or meant that" though. I would hope that it would learn your speech patterns and adapt to them.

  • Sootie

    Fad, talk to me again when they have brain control

  • fixxmyhead

    I only use it when I'm too lazy to type out a long message as a matter fact I'm doing it right now

  • Ron Amadeo

    Ask me after Google I/O.

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    I voted "Fad" -- it's not that I don't think voice recognition won't be helpful, but I feel that we are far far away from seeing a truly intelligent computerized assistant. There's nothing Apple, Google, or any technology company can do at this moment. Put it this way, if we don't see A.I. that can fully understand the context of our language through textual input, I don't expect too see a flawless voice control.

  • Cew182

    I think the tech is immature. It will have to be treated as a complete input method like a keyboard or mouse so that the os can be fully operated by it. Possibly even more than that, it will need it's own feedback system so that one can converse with with machine in question. Just look at the touch screen interface. OS's had to be modified to make allowences for the interface. Bigger on screen buttons and gestures for things like zooming had to be developed as while as tactile feedback. Similar techniques and crutches will be required but they will be in vocal form. Basically if you're going to talk to your phone it's going to need to talk back interactively and intelligently anticipate what you are trying to accomplish. This will also have to be done locally, not by calling back to the siri mainframe.

  • Jameslepable

    I voted no but if it comes to a point where its like J.A.R.V.I.S. then I will be really happy :D.

  • Jade Walker

    I sure hope it's a fad. One commenter mentioned that people don't want their conversations heard. I for do not want to hear them. More texting and less talking, especially in public.

  • Eisenbathb

    Well with new apps coming like Utter! i think voice services and apps will be the future for phones and other tecnologies.

  • oesjmr

    In the long run, future...but for now fad. I can't recall a single instance in real life where I've seen people using the voice control feature on their phone besides dialing someone's number over a bluetooth headset.

  • Not enough minerals

    fad. only useful for a handful of things like gps navigation

  • Simon Belmont

    I think it has a future. That's why I am so psyched for Google Assistant to make its grand entrance with the launch of JellyBean.

    I, for one, have always wanted to be able to command things with my voice like using the computer in Star Trek. There are many applications where it will be useful and it's an exciting prospect, for me at least.

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