Our phones are capable of doing so many things, many of which we haven’t a clue about because we haven’t worked that out yet. If we really sat down and thought about how hard it is to execute some of the simplest things on our phones, we might be amazed. In order to simplify how we interact with our devices, Google has launched Chrome to Phone and Voice Actions.
Communicating with your phone should be as easy as communicating with another person. It is still a phone, after all, made (mostly) for voice conversations. Their initial investment in voice search has definitely paid off with 25% of searches from Android 2.0 devices being done via voice. Voice activated dialing and voice commands have been around for a while, but Google is attempting to take this type of control to the next level with Google Voice Actions (get it here). You can initiate calls to contacts and businesses, make a note to yourself, pull up a map, send a text or email, and even tell your phone to play a certain artist/song/album. Here are the commands currently available:
- 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]
This feature only works on Froyo 2.2 and will be pre-installed on the Droid 2 phone from Motorola. Other phones that have just been updated will need to install the following apps to get access to the new features:
- Voice Search (this app includes Voice Actions)
- Google Search widget
- music apps (e.g. Pandora, Last.fm, Rdio, mSpot)
I’ve been playing with Voice Actions on the Evo and I have to say that I’m extremely impressed and also extremely disappointed. Just as with the voice-to-text feature that was already available, you often get server errors. I can’t really tell if it’s a connectivity issue specific to me or something on Google’s end. The primary issue is that you have to keep repeating yourself rather than the software saving what you said and trying to submit it again.
Chrome to Phone
Have you ever been looking at something on your computer and decided you wanted to take it with you? It would be great if there was an easy way to just zap stuff from your computer to your mobile device, but that ability just hasn’t existed until now with Chrome to Phone. Chrome to Phone puts a button on your browser that lets you seamlessly hand things off to your phone.
How many times have you looked up directions on your computer and immediately wished you’d just done it on your phone? Every wished you could cut and paste something to your phone? Dial a phone number? Chrome to Phone makes it all happen.
Suppose you’re reading an interesting article on your favorite news website and need to leave for an urgent appointment. Simply click the extension icon in your browser to send the link to your phone and the device’s browser will automatically open the link, ready for you to view on the go. Chrome to Phone also works seamlessly with Google Maps. Say you’ve looked up an address or driving directions on your desktop. Clicking the extension icon in your browser will push the information to the Google Maps app on your phone. YouTube videos work the same way with the extension. You can also select a phone number on a web page and send it to the dialer on your phone. Selected text can also be automatically copied from your browser and sent to your Android clipboard for later viewing.
Remember that you need the Chrome extension as well as the corresponding Android app for your phone.