How Google and Microsoft Got Everybody Talking: Page 2

Voice command software has been around for ages, but almost nobody used it. Until now.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted November 27, 2013

Mike Elgan

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Here's a really good video demonstration of what Google Now and Google Voice Search can do.

Comically, if you have a KitKat tablet, phone and a laptop running the Chrome extension on Google Search, and say the magic words, all three will execute the search at the same time from the same voice command.

The new Voice Search capabilities are rapidly spreading to users via gradual updates for specific phone models, and also starting to ship in new Android phones. There's also a new iOS app for it unveiled this week.

Android is the world's most heavily used operating system. The increasing usage of voice commands via Android could add hundreds of millions of people to the ranks of those who control their phones and tablets with voice.

Google announced this week that its social mapping product, called Waze, has been upgraded with more voice commands.

The iOS and Android app already talks to you with turn-by-turn directions, and warns you of police, roadside emergencies and slowdowns in traffic. But this week Google announced new voice command support.

For example, you can now use voice commands to search for addresses and locations, report "events" (traffic, hazards and so on),

They also rolled out a feature that enables celebrity voices to give you information. The first is comedian Kevin Hart.

Waze is increasingly integrated into Google Now and Google Maps, so we can expect Waze voice command features to follow the integration into those products.

Maps is a compelling place for voice command and interaction because it can be inconvenient, illegal and dangerous to type in or use touch input while driving.

I think Waze users are going to take advantage of these features, and their existence will get a lot more drivers talking to their phones.

Another Google project is driving voice commands: Google Glass. In fact, there's no way to use it without seeing the prompt "OK, Glass" on the tiny screen. Once you say those words, you get a menu of the rest of the commands (such as "record a video" or "get directions.")

Google Glass is one of the most voice command-centric products ever made. Nearly all its users talk as a normal part of usage.

Glass is not a publicly available product yet, but an invitation-only "beta." However, Google has recently invited any and all developers to buy the headset. That announcement came after Google offered the current users to each invite three additional users.

The company is also expected to offer support for prescription glasses starting early next year.

Usage is growing. And as I said in this space recently, I believe Glass will become a mainstream product.

What's interesting is that these are mostly mainstream products, and have you covered with voice command capability at home, work, in the car and while walking around.

Voice command technology has been pretty good for a long time. But its existence barely registered for the great masses of ordinary users.

Finally, however, talking to your computer, TV, phones and tablets is finally becoming a normal, expected part of everyday life. And it's being driven mostly by these new products from Microsoft and Google.

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Tags: Google, Microsoft, Chrome, Siri, voice recognition

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