Android voice search

Here's a follow up to yesterday's tip, in which we learned to hold down the search button to launch Google's voice search. But what, exactly, can you ask it? Here it is, from the horse's mouth:

  • Call <contact name> (+ <home|mobile|work>): Dial this contact. If the contact has multiple phone numbers, and you don’t specify which number to dial (i.e. “call Dad work”), you will receive an on-screen prompt to select which number.
  • Dial <phone number>: Dial your selected number: “Dial 3-1-0-5-5-5-1-2-1-2?.
  • Find <location>: Open a map a Google Maps displaying pins with the location(s).
  • Specific business name: “Find Staples”, “Find McDonalds”,
  • Type of business: “Find gas station”, “Find grocery store”, “Find yogurt”,
  • Specific location name: “Find Disneyland”
  • Type of location: “Find dog parks”
  • Map of <location>: See Find, above.
  • Directions to < location>: Open Google Maps providing driving, mass transit, biking or walking directions to your selected place from your current location. You can use the same types of locations as with Find, above.
  • Navigate to <location>: Start Google Navigate with <location> set as the end point. You can use the same types of locations as with Find, above. General requests like “Navigate to gas station” will produce an on-screen prompt to select which local gas station.
  • Open <application name>: Open the desired application: “Open calendar”, “Open Facebook”, “Open Battery Info”.
  • Post buzz <message>: Generate a Google Buzz posting of your phrase. Posting will be geolocated with your current position.

And again, third-party apps can add functionality. There are what you get in stock Android.

Update: OK, so some of these might not work anymore. (Why? We have no idea.) Find one that does? Sing out!

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Reader comments

What can I ask Android?

50 Comments

When I hold down the search button and say "open calendar" it does a Google search for open calendar. And on another note, I can't wait for FroYo on my Evo!!!

Hmmm - "Open Facebook" returns a google results screen with facebook links, rather than the application.

I have the same thing going on.

If you use the voice dial icon, Open Facebook works fine, but if you use the Voice Search it just does a web search.

I can confirm... so what I just did is remapped the tap function on Fancy Widget to open Voice Dialer when I tap on the date, since I have a calendar widget already.

Open isn't working for me. It always goes to Google search and gives me a search listing of whatever I just said. I.E. "Open Calendar" gives me a google search of Open Calendar.

Droid Incredible.

Same thing for "FIND" as well

Instead of saying "find gas station" say "map of gas station" and that will open Google Maps. But the "open" thing is doing the same for me

thank you, i have been looking for something like this

however I have one burning question:

is there a voice shortcut to SMS somebody? "Text Dad mobile" or "SMS Dad mobile" doesn't work

Same here. Maybe the tip meant you have to initiate the search from each application??? Definitely doesn't work from the home screen.

afaik the only ones that actually work are:

"call john doe" - calls contact 'john doe'
"call 5555555" - calls '555-5555'
"map of san francisco" - opens up maps and centers on san francisco
"directions to place" - looks up directions to 'place'
"directions to 123 foo drive" - looks up directions to '123 foo drive'
"navigate to place" - opens up navigation to 'place'
"navigate to 123 foo drive" - opens up navigation to '123 foo drive'

i've tried all of the above ones and they have worked in the past. didnt actually try the ones listed in the original post, but judging by the comments some of them arent working.

Just curious - is there any way to "train" the voice recognition? I was trying to map someone's town that had a hard to pronounce name and it would be nice if I could train it somehow off my own voice pattern.

Any suggestions on these third party apps that add functionality? I'd love if the "open" command worked, even if you had to preface a search with the word "find" or "search".

Question: How come when I search for something via the voice search, it looks for these places in California? I live in Ohio, so I have no idea why it would look there.

I turned my GPS on and it still looks in Cali.

How do I change this?

Ditto, ditto, ditto. The 'open' command doesn't work well and the 'find' command is iffy.
It would be nice if we could 'navigate(contact)(home/work)'.

Otherwise it's pretty sweet..

Voice search and commands on my X suck. I have used a droid and they work surprisingly well at times, but my X can't even pick up works like "lane" or "road" most of the time. And don't even get me started on voice dialing. Call Kevin apparently equals Call Shannon or Call Megan most of the times. Honestly, it's my biggest gripe about my X

Doesn't the X also have special third-party recognition provided by Nuance? That might work bvetter than the Google voice-recognition.

As mentioned above, the problem is there are two separate programs.

Voice Search (which you can launch by holding down the search button) and Voice Dialer.

Voice Dialer is the program that can "Call xxxx" or "Open xxxx" not Voice Search.
Voice Search will do the "Navigate to xxxx" and "Map of xxxx" but it will not do open or call commands.

Why these are two separate programs blows my mind. Why are they not the same? It makes no sense. I had heard that they were supposed to be one and the same when Froyo got here but no.. Still two separate icons.

:(

I use Voice Search (by holding down the search button) to call contacts all the time, so not sure what you're talking about.

I do have both Voice Search and Voice Dialer in my app drawer, but I never access these directly. I just long press the search button.

Yea, that does make sense. Voice search is usually not terrible. VOice dialing sucks for me, but when I do voice search in google maps it's usually really bad too. Sometimes it'll be right n the money tho

I think it all depends on what your Search button is configured for (viva le choice in Androids, right?)

For my Incredible, the Search button brings up Google Voice Search, which rocks. It's ability to find unpronouncable things like "Mantoloking, New Jersey" is uncanny.

For local (phone) voice search, instead of Voice Search, which sucks, I use Voice Search HF, from the Market, which sucks slightly less.

I ended up changing the default app that opens when holding down the search button. Does anyone know how to choose another program? Thanks.

I can't specify the number with which to call a contact on my EVO. Even if I say "Call [contact] mobile" it always dials home. If don't specify a number for a contact with multiple numbers listed it doesn't bring up a prompt it just dials the home number. Maybe this a Sense dialer thing? I'm using Launcher Pro, but obviously the phone is still using the Sense dialer.

I was annoyed enough by the increase in posts about n00b stuff that is found in the quick guide shipped with most android devices (like what the hardware buttons do.)

Now this post claims the info is from "the horse's mouth" but doesn't mention who the horse is by either citing or linking to the source and it is chock full of erroneous information.

Congratulations Android Central. You just won the rare prize of being removed from my RSS feeds on all devices I have RSS readers on.

You had a good run. Enjoy catering to n00bs with incorrect info. I'll be getting my Android info from several of the other dozens of Android fan sites instead.

I would assume straight from the horse's mouth means Google, seeing as that's what the phrase means. Maybe from a Google blog or video.

And if you know everything about Android, more power to you. If you don't want to help new members learn, or you wanna trash on those that do wanna help, then step aside, because we don't need you here nor care if you take AC off your RSS feed.

Why join a community if everyone is going to rail on new guys and those that help them, right? That mentality will only delay Android in the smartphone war. We're not elitists here. We save those seats for the Apple fanboys ;) (I kid, I kid!)

Being annoyed by information that is in the quick guide/user manual packed in the box with every Android device, and being annoyed by incorrect information is not Elitist. It also doesn't mean I don't like helping people. It means I don't have patience for stating the obvious and for incorrect information. If you can't take criticism get the hell off the 'net.

it looks like these commands vary depending on the phone. perhaps HTC assigns it differently than Motorola, and Samsung, etc

.. and why are you still here?

They all worked on my Droid Incredible except for Dial and Open. Both just open a google search. Otherwise very handy, indeed. good tip.

This is confusing what's available in the Android by default, and what's available through 3rd party applications.
"Find", "Open" are not really there.

Navigate to, Directions to, Call "John doe on Mobile", all of these work great.

Vlingo looks nice, but try Edwin Speech to Speech. He does most of the same things, he's free and he's awesome.

On my Evo, holding down the Search and doing a Google Voice Search based on maps or navigation works fine, but "Call" or "Dial" just opens a Google search window and looks for whomever I said.

I tried using Voice Dialer directly and it doesn't appear to hear me. The "Listening" and microphone flash but do not react to the sound of my voice.

Umm, try it again dude... Call XXX is one of the few things that works for me on the EVO, regardless of whether I use voice search or voice dialer (as long as I'm naming an actual contact and pronouncing the first name clearly)... Map of and directions to seems to work with places or areas, not so much with specific businesses, but I'll chalk that one up partly to living in Puerto Rico... It would never understand half the places I'd like to go to. :p Map of San Juan works tho, for instance.

I should add that Open whether also works, but only with the dialer and not voice search. Pretty counter intuitive but it seems to work with all apps, got it to open Astro, Movies, etc. In the end it's all pretty useless to me, any app I open I'll probably start working with immediately, map of or directions to us marginally useful while driving I guess, call X should be useful once Froyo ties it to Bluetooth... Otherwise I might as well select the contact by hand if I've already taken the phone out.

Holding the search key then saying "Call [contact]" works only if the contact is a GMail contact. If I speak an exchange contact I get a Google search of 'call [contact]'....using an HTC Incredible. "Navigate to" works as long as I speak the adress or name of the business. I've tried "Navigate to [contact]" and it does not work.