Sweet Feature: Android Voice Input

One feature of Android I haven’t seen hyped much is voice input, which was introduced in 2.1. This was mentioned at Google IO during one of the keynotes, and I remember thinking “that’s pretty freaking cool.”

Maybe I don’t read the right coverage, or maybe it’s totally yesterday’s news (not literally, but kind of funny considering this weeks’ announcements).

Anyway, this is one cool feature that the iPhone doesn’t offer natively. Some apps, like the Google app, support voice input, but Android builds it right into the keypad, making it available to all apps.

It’s easy to miss, but there’s a microphone icon right down there next to the comma key.

Touch that key, and you’ll get the Speak now prompt. I’ve tested this for search fields and for input fields, and it’s reasonably accurate. I even tried composing an email, and its transcription accuracy was probably 70-80%. Not bad.

Now, I’ve got to train myself to use it and undo my learned iPhone behavior.

In related news, Google has turned on some voice features for several other countries and languages.

Have you used this feature? Do you think it’s useful?

Find the comments.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

11 comments

  1. Yup, after I got the EVO, one of the first things I tried was the voice search they demo'ed during the keynote (“photos of barack obama with the french president”). Worked perfectly.

    That said, just like I never used the Google voice search on the iPhone other than to show people how cool it is, I have not really used it on the EVO for anything else either. Note to self: try it for the next email.

  2. Agreed, although on the iPhone it wasn't as ubiquitous or potentially useful. I have found myself needing to search while in the car though, for which this is really useful, if sometimes imperfect.

  3. I've read about both those, but haven't had time to try them yet. Good tips, I need to try one or both. Thanks.

  4. Use the voice search feature all the time…but on my iPhone: Google's mobile app. It's pretty cool. But native is probably even better.

    Also a Dragon Dictation user on iPhone & iPad – much better on the latter. But, again, native is probably even better.

  5. Yeah, I think I covered voice search when it launched, well before the smartphone holy war began. I haven't do a lot of side-by-side testing, but I'm guessing it's pretty much the same on both. Having voice available everywhere is the killer piece.

  6. That might be enough to push me over the edge to Android. As you mentioned the google app (even for blackberry) has the built in voice support which seems to work 90% of the time even with background noise.

  7. Funny, I was just showing Swype to my wife last night, and she said, “it would be cooler if you could just talk to it.” So, I showed her this feature, and she (iPhone user) said “I want that.” Here I was thinking that Swype was the killer keyboard.

    I think your figure of 90% is pretty close, too, so it's damn useful. It's too bad the Swype keyboard doesn't have a speak option, best of both worlds.

  8. Funny, I was just showing Swype to my wife last night, and she said, “it would be cooler if you could just talk to it.” So, I showed her this feature, and she (iPhone user) said “I want that.” Here I was thinking that Swype was the killer keyboard.

    I think your figure of 90% is pretty close, too, so it's damn useful. It's too bad the Swype keyboard doesn't have a speak option, best of both worlds.

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