Google Now’s voice search engine might not be as cheeky as Siri or Cortana. It doesn’t have their personality or charm. You’re not going to get funny replies, it won’t tell you jokes. But there are a lot of useful things you can do with it. And the list keeps growing with time.
If you’ve already used the Google Now voice search app on your phone, you might be familiar with some of the things it can do. Like call people for you, search for things on Google, answer general knowledge questions and more.
The reason you should be using it is simple. It makes many complicated tasks that you’d need to press a couple of buttons and launch apps for as easy as asking someone a question.
But that’s just the icing on a large cake. There are many more things you can accomplish. Once you learn these commands, you’ll be typing a lot less and using voice search a lot more.
Making this work: On your Android phone you’ll need Google Now activated for some of these actions to work. You’ll also need the Google app. To make things easier for you, enable the OK Google command Android-wide. We show you how here.
1. Send Hangouts Messages
I can’t wait till Google voice search gets app integration or an open API. But till then, it’s going to give preference to Google apps. For instance, you can use the voice command “send Hangouts message to”, specify the contact name, then dictate the message and be done with it. No need to go to the Hangouts app, select the contact, type, and tap Send.
2. Call, Message, Timer, Alarm, Define
I feel like you should be using Google Now for these things already. If you’re not, this is a reminder.
3. Toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Just say “turn off Bluetooth” or “turn on Wi-Fi”. You can’t yet do this for data connection or GPS.
Just say “directions to X” and the app will show you directions to the place. You can then tap Start to start Navigation. You can also use voice search to look up places, points of interest, attractions and more.
5. Calculations and Conversions
One of the best things to do with voice search is to ask it to convert currencies or units. That way you don’t have to fiddle with metrics in any app. All you have to do is speak in natural language, like “500 Singapore dollars in Euros” or “500 feet in centimeters” and that’s it.
6. Notes, Reminders
Voice search integrates with Google Keep by default. So just say “note to self” followed by the note and it will be converted to text and saved as a new note in Keep. But if you have another notes app installed like Evernote, you can switch the default app.
Google Now also does time and place based reminders. As place-based reminders are backed by Google Maps, they’re pretty solid. You can say “remind me to buy toilet paper when I’m at Walmart” and it will do so. You can also say “remind me to start working on my new super-secret project 3 weeks from now” and it will understand that as well.
7. Calendars, Time Zones
Setting up appointments is also easy this way. Just say “create a calendar event: quarterly meeting at 9 AM on Monday” and the app will extract the title, date, and time. It will be presented to you and allow you to edit the details before saving it to Google Calendar or another supported app.
You can also ask the app to see what your schedule looks like. Another complicated thing you can solve with voice search is time zone management. Just ask “what’s the time in Tokyo” and it will tell you.
8. More Stuff
There’s still more that Google Now voice search can do. You can ask it to post status updates to Google+ and Twitter, search videos on YouTube, or look up actors for a movie.
But the points listed above are the really important ones and if you always have a stable internet connection and don’t mind talking to your phone, it’s actually better than the alternative – doing things manually.
Try to slowly integrate Google Now voice search in your life and you’ll be better off that way. It’s also a great thing for the elderly, tech averse folks, or people with disability. My mom can’t figure out the complex UI for many apps, even the dialer. But she loves that she can just say “call Khamosh” and the phone will place a call (she also loves the idea of gesture-based Z Launcher).
Technology is wonderful.