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Explore the world of smartphones, smart TV & games with voice commands

If you care to learn, there are a lot of things that you can do with your gadgets without pressing a single button — just use the specific voice commands.

Apr 23, 2014, 04.00 AM IST
If you care to learn, there are a lot of things that you can do with your gadgets without pressing a single button — just use the specific voice commands.
If you care to learn, there are a lot of things that you can do with your gadgets without pressing a single button — just use the specific voice commands.
If you care to learn, there are a lot of things that you can do with your gadgets without pressing a single button — just use the specific voice commands. ET tells you the different actions you can perform on your internet-connected smart TV, smartphone & gaming console.


Set Reminders

Normally, to set a reminder you need to open the calendar, set a date, and key in various other details — this is time consuming. With voice commands, setting a reminder is simple. Android, iOS and BlackBerry users just have to say the particular voice command (‘Remind Me’ for Android, ‘Set Reminder’ for iOS and ‘Make a Note’ for Black-Berry) followed by what you want to be reminded about.

It can be a time or location based reminder. The phone automatically fills in the required fields and saves the details.

Dictate SMS/Email

IT’S COUNTER productive to type a long message out on the onscreen keyboard — just use dictation to type. Depending on the smartphone you use, you will have to speak out the type of message (SMS, email, BBM) followed by the contact name. After that. dictate your message by speaking slowly and clearly. Keep in mind that though voice dictation is not completely accurate, it will improve over time more you use it.

Set an Alarm

YOU MIGHT need to set multiple alarms through the week and voice can make this easier. In both iOS and Android, you can even give a command to wake you up after a specific duration. For instance, say ‘wake me up in five hours’ instead of saying ‘set alarm for 8am’. In iOS, you can also set a timer using voice.

Search the Web

THERE ARE two ways to search using voice commands. First is that you ask a specific question such as ‘What is the weather’ or ‘How much is 22 percent of 340’. This would give you a direct answer instead of going to a search engine and then opening a relevant website for information.

The second way is the traditional way of searching using a search engine (Google is the default for both iOS and Android). Tell Siri ‘Google crocodile’ and it will bring up search results by Google for Crocodile.

Call a Contact

THIS IS quite useful if both your hands are occupied: just initiate a voice call with any of your existing contacts. First, identify the contacts you call on a regular basis and check names for errors.

Voice command indexes your phonebook to identify contacts and those names need to be spelt right. If there are multiple people with the same name, it will ask you to choose a contact before placing the call. Siri on iOS even lets you correct the pronunciation of a contact for improved identification.

Open an App

IF YOU have a large number of apps installed on your phone, finding the one you want can take a while. You can keep shortcuts on the home-screen, but there’s a limit to those. On both Android and iOS, you can launch any app by just speaking out its name after the command (‘launch app name’ for iOS and ‘open app name’ for Android). On many devices, you can also start music playback by saying ‘play music’, ‘play artist name’ or ‘play album name’.

Search Using Maps

WITH MAPS, users typically search for a location and then ask for directions. With voice, you can directly ask the phone to navigate to a location. Say ‘give me directions to Home’ or ‘navigate to Jaipur by car. Android also lets you search for nearby location by speaking óut commands like ‘show me nearby restaurants’.


IF YOU CAN’T BE bothered with hunting for the remote for a simple task like power on/off, volume or channel adjustments, you can just use your voice. This feature has to be built into the interface of a smart TV. For instance, Samsung’s F8000 series of smart LED TVs have built in voice control. There’s one microphone on the TV itself and one on the smart remote (so that you can you can speak into the remote without having to shout at the TV). There is a trigger word (Hi TV is default, but can be changed) and once the TV hears this, it activates voice command mode and shows a list of voice commands you can use on screen.

On LG’s LG8600 series of smart TVs, there is a microphone array built into the pop-up camera (used for Skype calls) as well as on the smart remote. Apart from basic commands, you can also use your voice to search for premium content (if available and connected to the internet) though the smart interface. The downsides to voice control on a TV are that you have to speak slowly and clearly — plus there is a learning curve if you’re only used to a remote.


AMKETTE’S EVO TV XL is a smart media player powered by Android. It has built in WiFi and several preloaded apps to convert any TV it connects to, into a smart TV. Each EvoTV XL comes with a motion-sensing smart remote which has a microphone built in.

The remote control uses RF technology and doesn’t need to be pointed at the media box. Since the box is powered by Android, it uses Google’s own natural voice recognition. Just long press on the search button on the remote and you can use Google voice search to search the web, set reminders and alarms and open apps that have been installed on the device memory.


SONY’s PS4 HAS AN extensive list of voice commands. You need to have a PS4 and PlayStation Camera (which has a built in microphone array) or a supported headset with mic. The commands are intuitive for the most part and fairly few in number. To start the voice menu, you say ‘Play-Station’.

Then, if you want to launch a game, say the name of the game to center it and then say ‘start’. Other commands include ‘take screenshot’, ‘power’, ‘login’ and ‘turn off PS4’. Microsoft’s Xbox One has a more extensive list and unlike the PS4, it can even be woken from sleep with a voice command (provided Instant On power mode has been enabled). Obviously, you need a Kinect sensor first. Then, just say ‘Xbox’ and you’ll see a list of commands.


Nuance, makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, have lent their expertise to Dragon TV — a platform for TV and set top box OEMs. The highlight is natural language understanding; you talk to the TV like you normally talk. Another feature that Nuance talks about is built in intelligence and ‘fartalk’ microphones which are smart enough to differentiate between voice & ambient sound.

When this becomes mainstream (powered by the surge in internet connected TVs), you could just ask your TV/STB to record a program, ask when a certain program comes on or just search. The platform also integrates with social networks so that you can share updates by talking.

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