All the buzz about Siri has got me thinking about Google Voice Actions. Remember those? Hold Search for a couple of seconds, and a dialog box will appear; you can then say something like “send text to Joe Bloggs: running late, meet you outside”, or “listen to: the Beatles”, or “note to self: pick up milk”. Here’s an article and video explaining how to Voice Actions, from August 2010.
Sam Cater talked about Iris – a proof-of-concept Android clone of Siri knocked together in a few hours – in this morning’s Opinion post. Iris is more proof (if proof were needed) that voice control is not a holy grail of technology, or even particularly hard to achieve these days. ViaVoice and Dragon NaturallySpeaking, two pieces of desktop software that allow speech transcription and voice-activated computer interaction, were first released in 1997.
It seems that this is a recurring fad; every now and then, pundits get super-excited about the potential future of this type of interface… and then all excitement fades away for another year or so. But is this because voice control is an idea that sounds better in theory than it is in practice, or have developers just not managed to do it right yet? (In which case, perhaps Siri will be the first to meet that potential.) Vote in the poll, and let us know in the comments why you do or don’t use Google Voice Actions. (Personally, I find it simpler to tap, swipe and type. Well, also, the phone has difficulties understanding my British accent.)