How many of you have had some form of voice recognition on your mobile phone in the past? (My hand is raised.) It never worked well. I used what RIM had built into the phone on my Blackberry Curve and I say the accuracy was always at around 50%. A recent conversation with my Parrot hands-free unit in my car went something like this:
PARROT HANDS FREE UNIT: “Say a command!”
ME: “Call Mom Home”
PARROT HANDS FREE UNIT: “Calling Mike Holmes”
And I immediately hit end before I am connected to someone in my large contacts database named Mike Holmes!
Interestingly though, about a year ago, I downloaded the app for Google search and noticed it had a very accurate voice recognition function. Still skeptical, one day I used it. Surprise! Its was extremely accurate and became one of my most used tools on my blackberry (behind the mail feature.)
Fast forward to last month. I purchased the HTC EVO 4G. While I was typing I would notice an icon of a microphone on the keyboard. Of course in no time, I had to press it and speak into the microphone. The results were accurate like my old Blackberry Google Search App.
Because the feature is integrated into the operating system and shows up on the keyboard, regardless of what application you are using, the expanded functionality of having a Voice-to-text engine is now seriously able to be exploited. Especially when you want to knock out a quick text response like, “see you there.“ I have to admit, this feature was not on my radar when I was shopping for a phone.
With the voice recognition engine built into the Android Operating System, Google Search is an even more powerful product. It came pre-loaded as n app on my HTC EVO. Google Search also has features called “Voice Actions” which allow the app to interpret commands like: “Text Frank Albano When is your next Blog Post?“ Google has a short video on their Google Mobile page demoing the features. http://www.google.com/mobile/voice-actions/
Google’s app takes things a step further by integrating commands into the voice-recognition process and allowing users to utilize their voice in using their phone. These are obvious needs for the long commuter who is in the car and cannot spend time to type on the phone. Voice Actions allow the commuter to maintain concentration on the traffic ahead of them. Though as of this post, cannot read emails and messages back to the driver.
Its a shame these features are not dominant to most buyers when walking into a store to purchase a smart phone. If anything, consumer are bombarded with the mobile provider’s hard sell on their features and slow to show you added functionality of Google and Android. Apple is excellent at showing special features because they only sell one product in the mobile phone space, thus they market their hardware and software through commercials. Android is much different because they are a platform running on multiple mobile devices. Whether its Google, Android, or Apple, these features take advantage of the advances in the technology we hold in our hands and ultimately make our lives easier to navigate. (Oh I almost forgot, since I said “navigate” the Google Search app will also interpret: “Navigate to deyoung museum San Francisco” and launches Google maps with Google navigate! Saves us from almost crashing the car!)