Google fired the latest salvo in the smartphone war with Apple on Thursday, jazzing up the allure of its Android phones with new voice recognition capabilities.
Google’s new Voice Actions feature lets users of Android phones quickly send text messages, play online music or find a restaurant’s phone number by barking commands into the handset.
Anyone who’s ever been behind the wheel on a long drive, or running through an airport carrying multiple bags, will recognize the appeal of firing off a quick missive by saying something like “send text to Marlo, I’m running ten minutes late,” instead of stopping to type everything out.
Google wants to maintain Android’s reputation for voice recognition – the company said on Thursday that 25 percent of US users of Android 2.0 phones currently use voice recognition to conduct Web searches – as Apple hints at its interest in bringing speech features to the iPhone.
In April Apple bought Siri, which makes an app that allows iPhone users to do things like find restaurant address or movie listings online with voice commands.