updated 01:45 pm EDT, Thu August 12, 2010
Google Voice Actions add SMS and biz calls
Google at its special mobile event today showed a slew of new voice features to help give Android an edge. Voice Search has now been upgraded with Voice Actions that can perform many tasks just through speech recognition. It's now possible to write e-mail or a text message solely through voice. Calls can also now use speech recognition beyond contacts as Android can call a store or other business that Google already lists.
Non-communication tasks have been given a lift as well. Music searches will optionally play the music directly in Internet radio apps, such as Last.fm or Pandora. Alarm clock and voice memos now work through voice as well, Google said. Maps, websites and other searches are options as well.
The feature's accessibility is currently limited. The new Voice Search app comes preloaded on the Motorola Droid 2 but is an upgrade elsewhere. It also works only on Android 2.2 devices and will lock out most older smartphones and even newer ones like the Samsung Galaxy S series.
Google's additions are an escalation in features versus Apple. The mobile challenger preempted Google with more advanced voice commands over a year ago with Voice Control on the iPhone 3GS, but virtually all the recognized commands apply to locally stored data, such as music or contacts.