Rant: Google press event – Voice Actions for Android, Chrome to phone and a big…YAWN!

C’mon Google! WTF! You send us invites for a product launch, keep us in suspense for two days, hold a major press event to announce this?!

Voice actions for Android and Chrome to Phone extension? Really?

Oh well. I’ll interrupt this rant to write a bit about this stuff.  But I’m a bit peeved, so  I’ll get back  to the rant at the end of this post.


Voice Actions for Android. It’s a voice service for Android phones (so far) , where you speak various commands into a phone, it recognizes them and performs certain actions. Currently the service supports 13 actions. Google mentions the following:

  • send text to [contact] [message]
  • listen to [artist/song/album]
  • call [business]
  • call [contact]
  • send email to [contact] [message]
  • go to [website]
  • note to self [note]
  • navigate to [location/business name]
  • directions to [location/business name]
  • map of [location]

You can ask your phone to “Call Blue Ribbon Bakery in New York”, “Navigate to Rockefeller Plaza”, “Listen to the Decemberists”, write an e-mail or SMS – and your Android phone will perform this action automatically. Here’s the video of it:

Pretty nifty stuff, and I can see a lot of use for it.

Except that Google says that Voice Actions currently are 70% accurate. Which is another way of saying that it  may be wrong a third of a time. Which, I guess, is OK for navigation, music or note queries. But, at least for me, those “call”, “e-mail” and “text” someone actions go out the window. Can you imagine what’ll happen if the Actions mixes up the names and sends that juicy SMS to the wrong girlfriend, or your boss?

Another thing announced today was a Chrome browser extension and Android app called Chrome to Phone. It allows you to push stuff from the Web directly to your phone. Which is also pretty cool, but it has already been around for Android 2.0 devices for several months.

According to Google Chrome to Phone:

adds a button to your Google Chrome browser that instantly sends the current web page, map, YouTube video, or selected phone number or text to your Android device running Froyo (or Android 2.2).

Here’s a video about it:

And that’s about it. Back to the rant.


Dear Google,

This was the stuff that you think warranted a huge press event?

As someone who was present there remarked – “this might be the biggest turnout we’ve had for a non-Apple event”. Really?! Apple, at least, has the courtesy to announce new devices, or talk about stuff that’s really important to them and attracts a lot of media interest (e.g. Antennagate).

Where you afraid that we forgot about you? Or did your engineers just get bored? It’s been 3 months since Google I/O, after all. Did your Android guys  miss mingling with outside folks, and decided – what the heck,  let’s do a presser, it’ll be fun…?

Well, the next time you decide to do thing like this, think about our time too. Think that quite a few people wasted half a day on your press event.  For a project -browser extension – developed on a 20% free time by one employee?!

So the next time you are announcing an update to Google places service, better mobile Youtube, Google Docs Viewer, or opening of Google Voice to the public, keep it to the Youtube upload and your blog, please.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Brianathasport

    This wasn't because it was so cool and everyone was waiting for it. It was Google's attempt at changing the subject from net neutrality.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    Yeah, well.

    Then they did a great job arranging this press event … and then publishing
    their response to blogosphere reaction to net neutrality deal with Verizon,
    right after the presser…


    got the media in to another frantic overdrive debunking Google's response

  • Marcus Christopher McFann

    what used to be simple OS upgrades are now media events. I blame Apple for all of this image handling. This could've been done with a simple blog post, not an event. Totally agree.

  • Marcus Christopher McFann

    I guess if I hadn't seen voice commands years ago on other smartphone platforms, I'd be enthused, but this is just too much about nothing.