Hack 84: Command Your Phone with Your Voice

Level Easy

Platform Android

Cost Free

Who hasn’t dreamed of verbally telling a computer what to do and having it actually listen — like we’re living in the future promised in 2001: A Space Odyssey (excluding the whole AI-gone-bad aspect)? Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that reality never quite materialized on traditional desktop and laptop computers. It’s a different story on smart phones however.

Because of their small screens and limited keyboards, several mobile operating systems have some built-in support for simple voice commands such as “Call Grandpa” or “Play Bob Dylan.” Google’s Android operating system, however, puts the rest to shame with the voice-to-text transcription available via its software keyboard and the Voice Search application, available in the Android Market at https://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.android.voicesearch.

This hack explains how to take advantage of these tools to work faster and better on your phone.

TIP Press and hold the home button for two seconds on an iOS device to activate its limited Voice Control feature. It includes commands for calling people in your address book (“Call Whitson”) and controlling music playback (“Pause music”), but it’s not nearly as capable as Android’s voice command options. (See a full Voice Control cheat sheet at http://atmac.org/iphone-voice-commands-cheat-sheet.) Additionally, the Google Search app, available in the iTunes App Store (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-search/id284815942?mt=8 ...

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