We may not have jetpacks, but there’s no doubt about it: We live in the future. The smartphones we carry in our pockets today have faster processors and more memory than the most powerful desktop PCs from a decade ago, and the ubiquitous high-speed Internet access provided by AT&T’s 4G and Wi-Fi networks amounts to always-on connectivity to the full sum of humankind’s knowledge. Since the launch of Siri with the iPhone 4S last year, it has become apparent that smartphone manufacturers consider voice control to be the next phase in human/computer interfaces. This post covers developments in two voice control interfaces, Voice Typing and Voice Command:
Google voice typing is implemented at a fundamental level on some devices. With the exception of password fields, where you see a text box on a voice-typing-enabled smartphone, you can use speech as the input method instead of the on-screen keyboard; in fact, speech input can be set as the default so that whenever a text input box is selected the device will display a “listening” prompt instead of the keyboard. This video from Google highlights the voice typing features on the Nexus One device, but the explanation and examples are still accurate for the Galaxy S III:
Voice command is an operating system-level interface that allows for speech control of common functions, like answering or rejecting calls (but not dialing; more on that shortly), stopping and snoozing alarms (but not creating or editing; more on that also to come), taking photos, and playing music. Voice Command works from inside the already-opened app (i.e., it cannot launch apps) and supports a limited number of actions within the supported apps.
In a follow-on post, I’ll discuss two more important developments in speech recognition technology: Voice Actions and Voice S, so stay tuned.