'Voice Actions' Power Faster Android Searches

Google on Thursday announced the addition of "Voice Actions" to its Android 2.2 Froyo search capabilities. The tool makes use of voice commands to initiate a wide range of actions on the phone.
Voice commands are nothing new, but Google has put them to interesting use in its latest update to the Android platform. By adding a number of spoken commands to the Android platform, users should be able to perform certain actions faster -- and without the need to touch the keyboard.

Google explains, "To use Voice Actions, tap the microphone button on the Google search box on your home screen, or press down for a few seconds on the physical search button on your phone to activate the 'Speak Now' screen." Once you've done that, users speak any of a series of commands and the phone will take it from there.

For example, Android users can say, "Send text to Bob Bobson." The device will open the text messaging application and then allow you to dictate a message to that person.

Other commands will allow users to listen to music, call businesses or contacts, send emails, open Web sites, navigate to businesses, obtain directions and call up maps.

In addition to the Voice Actions, Google also updated the search widget for the Android platform. The new widget will offer suggestions as users type for nearby businesses, such as restaurants complete with addresses and ratings.

These new features will be included out of the box with the new Motorola Droid 2. Users of other Android 2.2 devices, such as the Nexus One, EVO 4G or Droid, will need to go to the Android Market and download separate applications to enable all these features.