The funny thing about all the fuss with the voice commands on the new iPhone 4S with Siri is that phones have had voice control for a few years now. It just took Apple to make it amazing and cool and open everyone’s eyes to the fact that you don’t need to use a tiny keyboard on a phone to input characters. I had voice actions on a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone back in in 2007/2008. It worked but it wasn’t that impressive. It worked over a bluetooth headset though, so you could say ‘call so-and-so at home’ and it would get the job done. It also had ‘tell me the time’ which I used to use while driving, just because I could. The fact that you had to say it about 4 times before it got what you were saying was another thing.
Android phones have had Google Voice Actions built in since 2008 – see here. Works pretty well for accessing most features, sending texts, sending emails, making calls etc. Not to be left out on the Siri party I found another app in the Market called ‘Voice Actions’ by Pannous. The hilarious thing about this app is that it responds to questions on general knowledge topics and gives you a pretty good answer. Questions like:
- what’s the distance from the earth to the moon?
- how long does it take for the moon to orbit the earth?
- how many degrees fahrenheit are there in 100 degrees centigrade
- why is the sky blue?
It also has a bunch of other odd features, like asking it ‘what noise does a dog make’ will play barking sounds, as it does for other animals. Asking it to ‘paint a picture of …’ and then listing some objects will show clip art pictures of the objects you mention and you can drag them around the screen. Pretty neat.
So sorry Siri to steal your thunder, but you’re not new, you’re not even that good. Apple’s marketing and ability to promote product features on the other hand is second to none.