Voice Actions for Android is sort of useful

Google has expanded the voice command capability of Android with Voice Actions, a free app that lets you speak to control music playback, maps, and more.

In a wise move to keep Android devices ahead of the curve in terms of features, Google has released Voice Actions. The free app, which requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) and higher, is pretty simple: it let's you speak several handy commands that access various features on your phone. Simply stating a word automatically launches a Web search, or you can use specific statements to send e-mails and text messages, listen to music, pull up maps, get directions, or make a note to yourself.

Some commands work (right) better than others (left).

I put Voice Actions to the test on a Motorola Droid running Froyo and found that the app can be quite useful--about half the time. There were actually a fair amount of commands that it just couldn't get, such as "send e-mail to Antuan Goodwin, hello how are you" and "directions to Papalote" (see above for the outcome of that one). Now, I understand the second one isn't precisely English as it's a Mexican restaurant, but considering Google's own example of Pizzeria Venti, I was still a bit surprised. I tried those two several times without success.

However, I was able to get somewhere with "map of San Francisco" and "directions to Nopa" (yes, I like restaurants). I was also pleased with the music functionality since it let me choose which app I wanted to listen with. In any event, you can expect to get some mixed results from Voice Actions, but it's free and certainly worth a download regardless. Just remember to e-nun-ci-ate.

About the author

    Since 2003, Jasmine France has worked at CNET covering everything from scanners to keyboards to GPS devices to MP3 players. She currently cohosts the Crave podcast and spends the majority of her time testing headphones, music software, and mobile apps.



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