Hi Google, it's me Rita. I believe we've met before. Somewhere between Gmail, Google Photos, and Chrome, you must know a lot about me. Things I might not want others to discover, so hushhhh. (There are thousands of people reading us, let's not tell them about my love for Winnie The Pooh.) But our relationship doesn't feel equal; I barely have any information about you. Your new guy, this Assistant you've sent here to talk to me, I'd like to get to know him better. He looks a lot like the other guys you've sent before, Now and On Tap, but he seems special.
Have you ever wondered just how many things 'OK Google' voice commands can do? Wonder no more (or at least wonder less) - a new site called ok-google.io has set about documenting over 150 voice commands for Google on your Android device. Examples include:
Take a picture
Show me my messages
What's my next appointment?
When is my next alarm?
Set the volume to full.
And so on and so forth. The site overs a total of over 1000 example permutations for these commands, too. I didn't even know the "increase brightness" one was a thing, or "set volume to full" (max also works).
One of the handier voice commands that users can give to Google Now is "remind me to [whatever]," which will automatically start a function that adds a reminder and alarm to the cards. Follow that up with a specific time or day, and it will make the necessary adjustments to your command. Now it's even faster: the dialogue used to create a short countdown in the form of a blue line. But if you try the same command today, it will create a card instantly.
When you make a voice search or any other voice input on Android, there's a complex process that goes on behind the scenes. Your voice is recorded, transmitted to Google's servers, analyzed and converted into a text string, then either passed on to the relevant web service (like Google Search) or sent back to your device. It's usually almost instantaneous if you have a decent Internet connection, but therein lies its one weakness: you do have to have that connection in order for it to work. The rudimentary offline system (in Android since Jelly Bean) relies on a relatively unsophisticated vocabulary and detection system that's slow and less powerful than the connected version.
João Dias, also known as joaomgcdon the Play Store, is one of those developers who are never, ever, content with the current capabilities of modern smartphones. He wants them to be more powerful, respond to more commands, allow more interactions, all from more interfaces. His AutoVoice app has been available for a while, allowing you to harness the OK Google interaction scheme to automate plenty of new actions and issue commands that Google's default algorithms don't yet understand.
Now AutoVoice is getting a lil' sister app, an AutoVoice Chrome extension for your Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Thanks to it, you can perform the same actions on your phone, but while sitting at your computer (or from another phone too), like taking screenshots, sending messages, hanging up on calls, and more. João has made a demo video to show you the possibilities.
Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.
If you want to do absolutely everything from the "OK Google" voice prompt in Android... well, you can't. You can't, say, fire a rocket at the moon, or end world hunger, or have a dachshund puppy delivered to your doorstep. But developer João Dias is trying his darnedest to make all of that happen, and with the latest update to his AutoRemote app, it's getting closer and closer. You might even be able to make that rocket thing happen if you know someone at NASA.
Version 3.0.43 adds integration with the popular If This, Then That (IFTTT) web automation service, and by extension, all of the various web services and automated gadgets that IFTTT connects to.
Here's something that might just blow your mind. If you perform a voice search and Google misunderstands you, or you happen to garble your words, there's a quick way to take care of that. Just follow up with a second search that begins with "No, I said..." Google will then replace the incorrect word with what you said the second time.
Here's an example. Let's say you're in a hurry to get to our lovely website, and you say "OK Google, take me to Android Police." It doesn't hear you properly, and somehow you end up with Android mobile. A simple, "OK Google, no I said police" will take care of that issue just fine.
The Touchless Control feature on the Moto X and Verizon's 2013 DROIDs (Ultra, Maxx, and Mini) is already one of the coolest Android manufacturer add-ons around. Today it gets just a little cooler: the Touchless Control app was updated to add a "What's up" command. This voice command will make your phone read out the unread notifications in your status bar. This should be great for hands-free updates while driving. Or bathing.
Here's an example of a single email:
The vocal response will adjust based on your notifications - for example, if you have more than one unread email, it will simply give you a number.