Though voice control apps have been around for quite some time, it took Apple's release of Siri to bring the functionality to the mainstream. Now, competing manufacturers are trying to push out similar services. Samsung's first to the punch with a Vlingo-based "S Voice" service, though it remains to be seen how well it works.
About a month and a half ago, we posted about a highly impressive voice control app named "Utter!". Siri competitors are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Utter! is a lot more HAL than Siri:
Google Voice received its first major update in some time earlier today, undergoing a major UI refresh for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices (Gingerbread devices only see minor changes, such as the app icon), as well as new interface for Honeycomb and ICS tablets. Under the hood, SMS offline message queuing is now supported and works for multiple recipients.
Unfortunately, it still is ungodly slow to load on my Gingerbread phone, and scrolls like something from Android 1.6.
Improving on existing TTS technology, Loquendo (a Nuance company) is showing the world that "even computers can show their feelings," with a huge array of TTS engines that are not only more advanced, but significantly more dynamic than existing alternatives.
The bad news is that only two of these engines are currently available for Android – Italian TTS Paola and American English TTS Susan. That being said, we can still hope that more of Loquendo's engines will be adapted for Android, and, in the meantime, Loquendo's website has amazing demos of all its TTS voices, both static and interactive.
There's been a lot of buzz over Sprint's LTE plans lately, but the company's vice president of network development and engineering, Iyad Tarazi has just added more fuel to the fire, indicating that Sprint plans to deploy LTE-Advanced in a 10x10 configuration by the first half of 2013, using its 800MHz spectrum, offering download speeds of around 12-15 MB/s.
Meanwhile, Sprint's deployment of LTE on their 1900MHz spectrum is still on track for commercial launch by mid-2012.
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.