Google Glass Explorers are in for a treat today as the monthly update to Google's wearable computer is starting to rollout right now. This update continues the trend of incremental improvements to the device, but Google is at least responding to some user requests with XE8.
If your device has Android 4.1 or higher, a new Google Search update is rolling out in the Play Store that brings a handful of new and useful features, which includes a couple of additional voice actions:
What's in this version:
For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean): - Information about shows you're watching on your internet-connected TV (US only)* - Saved offers when nearby a redemption location - New voice action: play music from your phone or the Play Store - Voice actions tips * Requires phone/tablet to be on the same network as your TV
The most notable new features here are of course TV show information and voice actions to play music.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.