Every once in a while, an app comes along that revolutionizes the Android experience in an unimaginable way. More often, though, we get apps that simply regurgitate the same thing we've seen a thousand times before but with a different colored title bar or some such minor adjustment. A happy medium between the two, however, is necessary to the advancement of the platform. Perhaps the most important type of app is one that provides the functionality that we've been using the whole time but solidly improves how it is done.
You could continue to add events to your Google Calendar the old fashioned way, or you could use this super cool (and fun!) method of SMSing things to your GCal.
The process is so easy a caveman could do it, so follow along and you'll be one step closer to speaking (almost) directly to your calendar:
- Add GEvent (48368) to your contacts, name it “Magic Calendar”
- Click and hold the Search button to bring up Google Voice Search and say, “Text to Magic Calendar, Pick up kids 2pm at the Cliffs in Valhalla, New York” (or, you know, whatever event you want to schedule)
- Wait a bit… you should receive a confirmation text and it should show up on your Google Calendar
- Bring up event in your favorite calendar app or widget… click on the link for the location
- Click on bubble to check out Places and to get turn-by-turn directions from your free Google Navigation
- Extra credit – do the step #2 voice search hands-free using VLingo InCar
And that's it.
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.
The Google Voice app for Android, which I've been using as my primary voicemail provider after gladly abandoning Sprint's own visual voicemail, saw its first update in many months today, which, among other things, finally fixed the most annoying bug that's been plaguing it for as long as I can remember.
The bug I am talking about is, of course, having to click the Play button a second time after you've already clicked it once (the voicemail would stop playing 0-2 seconds into the call requiring this second press).
When the new Google Talk with voice and video calling was launched, those of you on T-Mobile who wanted to place calls on 3G quickly found out that it wasn't at all possible. Rather than connecting you to your dog for an afternoon chat, the application stubbornly insisted on only operating through a Wi-Fi connection. At Google I/O 2011, I was able to dig up some more technical details surrounding this limitation, even further upsetting hopeful customers.
As a Google Voice user, one thing that has always peeved me is that if I were to change my GV number, I would lose the old one after 90 days. Past that, if anyone tries to call or text the old number, it's lost into oblivion, never to be seen again (until someone else gets it). Google has taken note of this vexing problem and addressed it accordingly.
Now, when you choose to change or port your number, you can keep your existing number for a one-time fee of $20.
While browsing some new arrivals this afternoon, I noticed that Qik, one of the large players in the mobile video chat business, today released an app called Qik for Samsung, clearly targeted at users of Samsung Android devices. Qik has been releasing apps customized to certain classes of devices, or even individual ones, for as long as I can remember, starting with the EVO 4G last year, so seeing yet another variant doesn't surprise me (see Qik for Sprint, Qik for T-Mobile, and Qik for Atrix).
While roaming around Google I/O and looking for answers to numerous questions you guys posed, I ran into Wei Huang, the tech lead on Google Talk for Android. Yup, the same guy who announced video chat two weeks ago on the Google Mobile blog. Here are some questions I had for Wei, echoing many of you guys:
Judging by the comments in the post where Brad described his experiences with the Sprint + Google Voice integration after receiving his beta invite a few weeks ago, many peoples interest was piqued. Luckily, the wait is over for those of us who weren't fortunate enough to get an early invite to the program - they've now opened the doors for the rest of us.
The announcement comes courtesy of a post on the Google Voice blog, and outlines the 2 options available:
A few days ago I posted about my experience with the Google Voice integration with Sprint and outlined exactly how I did it. In the comments section, you guys responded with a lot of good thoughts and, in some cases, some serious bugs and questions. I have done a little bit of research, some testing, and some drinking (just kidding. Kind of), and I have some answers and responses for you upstanding, early-adopting citizens.