Here at Android Police, we love Google Now (and all the associated voice actions), but the natural language could use a bit of sprucing up. If you'd like to try an alternative voice assistant, Indigo may grab your attention on this front. The pitch here is that the app remembers your conversations and can sync those inquiries across devices.
If you ask a question like, "Where can I find Indian food around here?" you'll get a list of results. Tap on the one you're most interested in. You can then follow that up with "How can I get there?" From the context of your last question, the app can understand that "there" is "the indian restaurant." It even works if you switch devices, provided they're both logged in to the same account.
When Google announced Keep last week, one of the coolest features we learned about is the ability to accept the "note to self" command that has been part of Google's Voice Actions since the Froyo days. Previously, this would send an email to your own account with the transcribed text and the original audio file. Keep allowed users to send that data to a proper note-taking app instead. Well, as it turns out, Catch wants in on that voice action, so in a recent update, it's added the ability as well.
Nuance released its take on voice actions – Dragon Mobile Assistant – back in October of 2012, aiming to put "a Jarvis-like mini-mobile voice-enabled assistant" by your side. That's a huge order to fill, but the company is definitely edging towards a fully voice-controlled mobile, and today's update makes the app even more useful by adding a handful of new features.
Location Sharing and Friend Finder: Dragon now gives you the option to share your location or find your friends. Just say “Tell John where I am,” and Dragon will send John a text with a link to your location on a map. Need to meet John at a BBQ joint in the crowds of SXSW?
A few months ago I wrote "Stock Android Isn't Perfect," an article where I turned my usual harsh UX critique on stock Android, instead of justpicking onTouchWiz and Sense all the time in my reviews. The article went over pretty well, and even got a few responses from Googlers! I didn't cover everything that was wrong with Android, though, and there have been a bunch of updates since the original article, so it's about time I wrote a sequel.
So we're officially making this a series now, and it'll serve two purposes: One, there's a new version of Android out, and more things to complain about; and two, to give credit where it's due, because, since I wrote that article, a lot of things have been fixed.
This is why it's great that Google unbundles core apps from the OS. While it might take a considerable amount of time before the newest version of Jelly Bean rolls out to your device, current Android 4.1 users can upgrade Google Search right now and get access to the latest improvements to Google Now. The list of fun new features includes additional cards (like Stocks, News, Concerts, and Packages), as well as voice actions, including the glorious ability to add events to your calendar with via speech.
Here's the changelog:
What's in this version: For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean), Google Search is faster plus: - Google Now works with Gmail (English only) - Flights - Restaurant reservations - Hotel confirmations - Events - Packages - New Now cards: nearby attractions & photo spots, movies opening in theaters, concerts & more - New voice actions: launch apps, schedule meetings & check when your next appointment is Google Now puts you in control: at any time, adjust or turn off individual Now cards within Settings.
For years Nuance's Dragon served as a leader in the world of voice dictation and commands. More recently, though, as Google and Apple move in on the speech control world, the company has a more pressing need than ever to distinguish itself. Enter Dragon Mobile Assistant. This app aims to "expands the natural language understanding and artificial intelligence" of Dragon Go! and "[add] the most popular personal assistant features."
At this point, most of our readers are probably aware of how voice assistants work. This one isn't much different from the usual fare. You can speak commands to set up appointments, make calls, send texts, and perform searches.
I make no bones of the fact that I find 3rd party voice assistants to be increasingly redundant, especially with the arrival of Google Now on Jelly Bean.
But Google Now doesn't do certain things. One of those things has annoyed me since the early days of Google's Voice Actions: you can't make calendar events through voice input. And as a person that absolute despises digital calendars, this is something of a "must have" feature. Creating a calendar event in an app, to me, is like having a root canal - in that I wish I could be unconscious for the entire experience.
We non-Jelly Bean plebeians have been envious of those with access to Android 4.1 for some time now, and a recent video from JLishere provides yet another reason to be jealous. The video, a demo of the much-anticipated Google Now, shows off just how accurate JB's voice recognition can be - in fact, it was able to pick up on the subtle differences between words like 'Worcester' and 'Wooster.' It also exemplifies the impressive number of commands Now (in cooperation with the Knowledge Graph) can register - from "call the Drake Hotel" to "do a barrel roll."
Enough balderdash, though - watch the 47-question demo for yourself:
Update: 20 more questions:
One last note: as JLishere notes in the video description, the demo was performed on an early build of Jelly Bean - this, in other words, should be considered a beta feature that will only get better with time.
You guys remember Voice Search right? That app that every Android user ever has installed on their phone or tablet? Well, the Wall Street Journal, best known for being right about a good number of things, is reporting that Google has "accelerated plans" to launch a "Siri competitor." Our super secret sources tell us that Google will "launch" this competitor in August, 2010.
The WSJ doesn't have much more information beyond that:
Google, meanwhile, has accelerated plans to launch its own Siri competitor that would work on Android-powered devices, people familiar with the matter have said.
We've known for a very long time that Google dreams of producing a Star Trek computer with voice commands at its core.
Google I/O is coming and it's time to get excited! It's like Christmas in June! It will be here in just a few short agonizing weeks - and we need to prepare. There is background information you need to know, rumors you should have in mind, and past announcements and acquisitions that need to be remembered. Google always leaves little news breadcrumbs for those that pay attention, and I pay attention. Fanatically.
This post will be part news recap, part rumor roundup, and part speculation. The last time I did this went pretty well, and now it's time for another look at what the little elves at Google HQ are working on.