Google announced this week that it is adding 13 actions (eg send a text, send an email or search for) to it’s Android operating system. Finally we have a communication device that is like something out of Star Trek. Maybe I’m just too English, but I’ve never liked the idea of talking to machines. I always hated it when you had to speak your film details when you phoned the cinema. It looks as if everyone else will go for it. Admittedly trying to type and walk along the street is not the easiest thing to do. There was even a blog the other day that attributed an increase in accidents to this. So shouting a command into your phone may be very attractive.
My biggest problem with the voice commands in my experience is that they simply don’t work very well. Someone from Google did a slot in a workshop I was running. They showed a number of their products: Google Goggles (visual search), Google Translate, and Voice Search. None of the apps actually worked! Part of the problem was the data connection being poor. I have raised this many times before: so much of these apps, particularly Google who are very pro-cloud, rely on a good constant data connection. In reality that rarely exists outside the home. However with the two voice-based apps, it returned results but in both cases the wrong results. It just didn’t understand what was being said.
If I was to put my money on Voice Actions, or Apple’s Video Calling taking off, I would say that Google are going to be the hands down winner. So, Voice Actions are a nice idea (assuming I get over my problem of talking to machines), but I’d actually like to see these things working in practice.