Google Voice Actions launched with new Droid 2

Other Froyo-updated phones need the Voice Actions app update from Android Market

Voice commands on the Android platform were expanded today beyond a simple Google search to allow new commands such as sending a text message or an e-mail.

Google announced Voice Actions for Android at an event in San Francisco and in a blog post, along with a video explaining them.

The list of Voice Actions on Google's blog includes the ability to "send text" to a contact with a spoken message, and also to say "listen to" for a particular artist, song or album. Android then has the capability to find the song on a variety of Internet radio sites or other locations.

Other spoken functions include directing a call to a business or contact, sending an e-mail, finding a Web site, making a note to yourself, navigating to a location, getting directions, or getting a map for a location. Another function is the ability to set an alarm on the phone via voice.

In making the Voice Actions announcement, Google also said it has released an updated version of its Google search widget for Android that refines typed searches easily. The search widget and the voice search update, along with a series of music apps, are available in the Android Market, but Google included scannable Quick Response codes at the end of its blog for starting the widget and voice search downloads.

The technology to allow spoken commands to create an e-mail has been around for several years but has often been available only through third-party applications added to smartphones. What Google has done is expand the number of different voice commands that are possible on a single platform.

The Voice Actions capability is preinstalled on the new Motorola Droid 2 that went on sale with Verizon Wireless today.

Droid 2 runs Android 2.2, otherwise known as Froyo. While Froyo updates have been available to the Nexus One, HTC Evo 4G and the original Droid, Google said that owners of those updated phones will need to download Voice Search, containing Voice Actions, from the Android Market.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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