Google's various flavors of voice control are neat, not to mention extremely useful thanks to deep integration with Android. But Mountain View doesn't have a monopoly on speech interpretation: Microsoft has made a pretty compelling case for its cross-platform Cortana system, to say nothing of the similar entries from Apple and Amazon. SoundHound threw its hat in the ring last year with the semi-proprietary Hound app, though you had to be part of the beta to check it out. Today Hound gets a public launch, and everyone can play with it with no prerequisites. Read More
Have you noticed an improvement in your phone's voice search or voice dictation capability in the last few days, especially in noisy environments? You can thank the Google Speech Team. They've implemented a new system for automated listening to human voices. Adding recurring neural network functionality to the system has allowed it to more accurately identify complete words instead of individual snippets of sound. From the Google Research Blog: Read More
You know how you can press the little music icon while you're doing a Google voice search, and it will identify a song playing in the background Shazam-style? It looks like that functionality is making its way to the Android version of Google Play Music as well. A few of our readers and one Android Police staff member have seen the "listen for music" prompt while using the built-in search function in Google's default music player. It looks like this:
The tool appears to be independent of specific versions of Google Play Music or the Google search app, so we're probably looking at another Google A-B testing session with server-side functionality enabled. Read More
Google has found ways of letting us send text messages, perform search queries, and launch apps using our voice. Some of this functionality has made its way over to the desktop, such as asking Google questions. Starting now, if you open a tab to Google Docs, you can also write out documents. Read More
Google really wants you to know that voice searches are a thing, so it's taken to rolling suggestions out to some users in the home screen search bar. We covered that the other day, but since then we've gotten a few tips that similar messages are appearing inside the Google app itself. See for yourself.
Amazon probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of innovative gadgets. Not anymore, anyway. Hearing a company is producing a ho-hum smartphone based on Android isn't nearly as exciting as hearing about the Kindle for the first time. But with the Echo, the online retailer does have a cool piece of tech on its hands.
The Echo, which recently became available for general purchase in the US, is essentially what you get when you stick Google Now or Siri into a plastic tube. While that may not sound all that creative, delivery is everything. Saying OK Alexa (the name of the persona inside the device) out in the middle of the kitchen and having the product pick up from another room is rather impressive, especially when you just want to fire up some background music or search for a recipe. Read More
We've known that Microsoft has big plans for its Google Now-style Cortana service, and those extend beyond Windows on both the phone and desktop. The company has finally shared when it intends to make good on those plans. A blog post says that Cortana (named for the female AI in the Halo series of shooters) will be coming to Android as a beta sometime in July. Windows 10, which will include Cortana for desktops and laptops, is scheduled to be released on July 29th.
Microsoft says that the Android app will be "working as a companion to Cortana on your Windows 10 PC." Exactly what that means isn't clear, but it seems that Microsoft may limit Cortana on Android to Windows 10 users, at least initially. Read More
There's a minor change to the way Android M implements the lock screen. Instead of the camera and phone shortcuts, you have camera and voice search. Voice Search is accessed by swiping from the lower left corner where you now have a mic icon.
Over on the Android Developer's Google+ page an awesome new feature for Google's voice search was just announced. A small selection of applications will now open directly when using certain voice commands. For example, you can now say, "Ok Google, find houses near me on Zillow," and Google will automatically start the Zillow app, showing a map of properties near your current location (this also works with the applications for Trulia and Realtor.com). Previously a query like this would have directed you to Zillow's mobile site and given you a link to download Zillow's app.
Let me give you a few more examples of what you can do with the new voice commands. Read More