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Google’s Highlights Improved Voice Commands

December 11, 2015 - Written By David Steele

Google is rightfully proud of its Voice Search functionality, which has been expanded over the years to bring to it more and more functionality. Today, the company has issued a number of top tricks for hands free, voice operated Google control. Some of these tricks are designed for offline use, others more for online use and so without further ado, let’s take a look at what Google can do using our voices: and the first is setting your morning alarm, as the Google application does this really well. Indeed, our devices can call, text and set reminders and these are popular ways to use the Google voice technology. For some of these functions, you do need to tell Google to recognize your voice from any screen.

But did you know that you can use your voice in order to tell Google to play music on your device? You can tell your ‘phone or tablet to play music by a certain artist (“play music by Kylie Minogue”) or a mood (“play Christmas music”) for for an activity you are doing (“play music for sitting by the fireside”), and your device will do as you say using the Google Play Music Application. If you don’t use the Play Music application, no worries: simply tell Google the application you want to use (“play party music on Spotify”) and it will do as you ask. In a similar vein, you can also tell Google to find and play YouTube videos using your voice to direct the application, such as skipping forwards, pick a video from a list and similar. For this functionality, you’ll need to be using the YouTube application and Google will need to recognize your voice from any application.

Google have made great steps in order to make the voice search functionality respond to human speech rather than as though one is talking to a computer. The application is context aware; you can ask it complicated searches and after the initial result, then ask it a follow up question assuming that it already knows what you are talking about: it does. For example, you can ask Google for flight information from one city to another, and then when the search information is on the screen, follow this up with, “are there any later flights?” and Google will understand what you are referring to.

One of Android 5.0 Lollipop‘s ambitious plans was to better integrate third party applications into the operating system and we see some of the benefit of this with how voice commands can also work in third party applications, too. We’ve already seen how we can use our voice to command Spotify; we can also use Shazam, Lose It, Orbitz. Google have worked with a number of developer partners over the last few months to better integrate voice commands into their applications and the results are impressive if you have a supported application.

One of the showcase uses for the Google Voice Search functionality is when your hands are either occupied or dirty such that you would not want to touch your ‘phone: that means cooking! You can ask Google to find a recipe without touching your handset and covering it in cheesecake filling. And you can use some commands with your device being offline, such as changing music volume, opening applications, changing the screen brightness and adjusting the Bluetooth and flight modes of the device.

The final point that Google get across in their blog post is how the Google Search was designed with natural voice in mind – we need to talk to our smartphones as though they are human and this means correcting any transcription errors that the Google application makes. You can spell out the word that you meant, and indeed Google would like customers to do this as it provides the service with feedback, which can be used to improve matters going forwards.