It looks like Google isn't done adding goodies to the latest round of updates for the official Search app. The hotword for activating the voice search function is now "Ok Google," and it also works while looking at results, not just from the standard search screen. You'll need Search 2.8.7 (grab the APK here if you don't have it yet) and an updated English (US) language pack to see the new functionality.
Voice Search is everywhere these days. Google's expanding its Search app to pull contact information, Glass is controlled via voice commands, and iOS's Siri is now integrated with the Chevrolet Sonic. With the latest update to the DIRECTV app, customers can now use voice search to find out what's on television.
I've known my wife for five years now, and I still struggle to remember her phone number. The only numbers I know are those I can recall from before getting my first mobile phone, and since I have lost touch with nearly everyone from back then, that has largely been reduced down to immediate family members. For everyone else, there's a People app, and all I've had to do to dial them is start typing their name.
Here's a nice nugget of new for Google TV fans - we know you're out there. There have been rumors of an update to Sony's stylish NSZ-GS7 model (more colloquially known as the "Internet Player") for some time, and now they've made it official via the company blog. The NSZ-GS8 will be available for $199 starting in July, the online Sony store and the usual retail suspects. For the moment, Sony is selling the older model with a $30 discount, bringing it down to $169.99.
I went to LG's CES press conference, so I kind of feel obligated to write about it, even though nothing much happened. The biggest news out of the conference is that the translated "Google TV 3.0" press release we came across a few weeks ago is bogus. At the time we thought it meant a new version of GTV was coming, but it turns out it's just the same software that's been out since November, with a new launcher made by LG, which they referred to as their "3rd generation skin."
So what's new about the 3rd Gen skin?
Today, in a post to the Official Google TV Blog, Google announced officially the new functionality offered by the YouTube update we covered yesterday, along with a few other treats set to hit Google TV users starting with LG devices "this week."
First among the enhancements is the addition of Voice Search, allowing users to "simply speak to watch anything." Voice Search recognizes commands for opening apps, playing YouTube videos, visiting websites, and even finding channels or specific TV shows.
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.
A few weeks ago, a GSM Nexus S update 2.3.6 (GRK39C) with voice search fixes started rolling out, but it was immediately discovered to break Wi-Fi and USB tethering. After many complaints, Google pulled the OTA, and it seems like they've spent the last couple of weeks making sure everything works as expected.
A new update surfaced tonight, also numbered 2.3.6, but this time bearing build GRK39F. While there is no official changelog, based on the fact that an update with the same exact build hit the Nexus One a few days ago and didn't break tethering, I think it's safe to say it fixes at least that issue (Update: thanks to our buddy Omar for an additional confirmation of working tethering).
A little over a year ago Google introduced Voice Actions, which allowed Android users to perform a variety of tasks by simply issuing voice commands. Unfortunately, to the chagrin of non-English speakers, the app was only available in US English. Today Google is updating Voice Actions for users in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain with support for British English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
To use Voice Actions simply say one of the following commands (spoken in any of the aforementioned languages):
- send text to [contact] [message]
- call [business]
- call [contact]
- go to [website]
- navigate to [location/business name]
- directions to [location/business name]
- map of [location]
It is also possible to perform standard Google searches with Voice Actions.
Wow, this went unnoticed for a while, didn't it? On November 23rd, Google's own GoogleinHK YouTube account posted a video walkthrough of the new Google Voice Search in Cantonese. With only 2100 views, this official Google-authored video did not grab anyone's attention, until someone noticed that it featured over a minute of the clearest Gingerbread user interface video we've seen to date. The greens, the blacks - it's all there. Have a look:
Update #2: the original video was pulled but luckily, I found another copy:
Update #3: another mirror, in case Google takes down our YouTube mirror.