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Today Calendar Adds Language Processing For Event Entry

November 7, 2015 - Written By Phil Bourget

Smartphones are continuing to become the personal assistants we see alongside Iron Man, but something that often gets overlooked is easier hands-free data input.  No, not like entering this quarter’s earning reports using your toes.  Speaking to your device is becoming less weird (unless you’re in a rather crowded space, and tend to shout just to make sure Google Now picks up what you’re saying clearly), and Today Calendar has added that very functionality.

End of story usually, but since it’s Today Calendar we’re talking about here, there’s a little more to it, and it’s pretty nifty.  So, when your app gets updated to version 4.0, you’ll be able to utilize a feature that’s a little bit more special than just tapping your keyboard’s microphone button to input text via speech.  In the app, if you tap ‘+’ to create a new event, the initial data input box will pop up.  You’ll get the option to type it all in, then tap OK, or you can use the new button in the bottom-left ‘Voice Input’.

This does exactly what you think, really.  Your device’s default voice recognition service (typically Google’s Voice Typing, though your mileage might vary) will launch, and you can speak away.  You can list out your task or appointment for Today, then follow it by a time, and the expected full-control interface will pop up once it recognizes your request.  Now, what’s nifty is not that you can add text using only your voice; you’ve been able to do that for quite some time.  No, what’s genius about this interface design is that you say an event and its corresponding time, Today Calendar then processes both the event name and time, and sets the event’s title in the title space, and the start time in the start time space.  It sounds basic and obvious, but it’s well-implemented within Today Calendar’s interface.

As far as specifics go, you can say a time or a time ‘in the afternoon’ and Today will recognize and select the appropriate start hour, which is handy.  And if the processing misinterprets your time-related request (or fails to register it at all, as was the case when making some extremely explicit requests of Today’s new processing capabilities), you can just edit the time on the screen that follows after processing.