Google Adds to Android’s Capabilities

Last week, you’ll recall I had a bit of an adventure upgrading my EVO to Android 2.2. The reason was to test drive a couple new features that Google announced last week, Chrome to Phone and Voice Actions.

Chrome to Phone is a Chrome extension that can send data from your browser to your phone. Aside from the obvious launching of links in the Android browser, there are several other useful features:

  • Google Maps links launch the Google Maps application on Android.
  • YouTube links launch the YouTube application on Android.
  • Selecting a phone number will automatically launch the dialer with the number populated.
  • Selecting text on a Web page will copy the clipboard to Android (long press a text box to paste on Android).

I tested these all successfully, and there’s definitely a lot of value, especially in the Google Maps integration. There are real use cases behind this, which isn’t surprising considering it was a 20% time project.

Check out the video.

Voice Actions adds a bunch of spoken commands to the Voice Search and search widgets, which are already quite useful on Android. Here’s the list:

  • send text to [contact] [message]
  • listen to [artist/song/album]
  • call [business]
  • call [contact]
  • send email to [contact] [message]
  • go to [website]
  • note to self [note]
  • navigate to [location/business name]
  • directions to [location/business name]
  • map of [location]

I don’t use voice much myself, first because Swype doesn’t surface voice input and second because I feel like a tool commanding my phone. This list is good enough to make me reconsider, although frankly, remembering to use these features is the biggest hurdle for me.

Anyway, here’s the video:

Features like this are really cool and useful, and they do a good job making the user’s experience with the phone better. But are they enough to get someone to switch from a rival smartphone or upgrade from a dumbphone?

I’m not sure. I think carrier choice and cost are still the factors there.

Thoughts? Find the comments.

Update: I should have made it more obvious, but as Mandy Waite (@tekgrrl) points out, these features are Android 2.2 only. But hey, why not root?




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