Voice Control Your Android Phone: Google Introduces Voice Actions

If you own an Android phone with the latest Android 2.2 Froyo update, you can now use your voice to control almost all of the most often used features of the phone. With Voice Actions for Android, users can use voice commands to perform actions like sending text messages (“send text to Allison Miller Running late. I will be home around 9“), play specific songs from their music collection (“listen to the New Pornographers”), go to websites, send email, write a note, search Google and view a map and get directions.


To invoke this feature, Android users will first have to install the necessary application on their devices (Voice Search, Google Search widget and music apps that support this feature). Then, they can invoke the app by either tapping the microphone button on the Google search box on the home screen or by pressing the physical search button on their phone.

Here is a list of the available commands:

  • 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]

Obviously, this is still a bit limited, especially when compared to the huge vocabulary that systems like Ford’s Microsoft-powered SYNC offers or the tools that Siri developed before the company was acquired by Apple. Apple’s own Voice Control service offers some similar features, though with a more limited focus (music playback and voice dialing). Overall, though, this looks like a good start, and according to Google, the voice search has a strong semantic underpinning, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw regular updates with additional commands in the near future.