Voice commands for your car. Is it a case of less would be more?

Voice control is a wonderful thing.....occasionally I even find it works.

In the attempt to be all things to all people..has it missed the mark in an area where it would be genuinely useful?

Where do you most need voice control?

I find I don't really need it when I'm sitting on the couch, phone in one hand, coffee in the other, casually browsing the digital musings of the world...

I've got a couple of hands...and I am thankful they work fairly well in this context with a smartphone.

Where I would most like it to work is in my car.

Apps like Car Home Ultra are impressive...one simple click with a large button can instantly phone a friend.

The trouble is, in my state in Australia, even an app like this is illegal to use whilst driving, even if effectively parked in traffic at a red light.

(No doubt illegal because many haven't stopped at the one simple click but moved on to full blown 150 word text messaging...whilst simultaneously barrelling down the freeway at 100 kmh.)

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I suspect many places in the world are now similar...you cannot touch your phone even for a micro second....
Unless you have a new car, with a fancy bluetooth system, which integrates seamlessly with your chosen phone, you are limited to voice control...

and when you most need it what do you get?

Conversations that spiral into an abyss of futility....

This is a typical attempt...


Me: Hello Google
Phone: Crickets (ie. no response)
Me: Hello Google
Phone: Crickets
Me: Hello Google
Phone: Can't reach Google at the moment
Me: Hello Google
Phone: Speak now (Occasionally this does indeed appear..a hopeful promise of pleasant voice interactions to follow....)

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via searchengineland.com

Me: Call Jonathon

Phone begins a Google web search ....searching the web for the words 'Carl Jonathon'.
Me: Ok Google (Cycle continues for several attempts before eventually responding.)
Me: Call Jonathon (I'm speaking now in an American accent with disapproving looks from my wife..but it does help!)
Phone: Which number would you like to call? (Shows 2 numbers on the screen...)

We're now getting somewhere....

Me: Call Jonathan mobile

Phone: Can't find contact....would you like to add the number manually..

And so it continues....occasionally if one is patient...you can actually get this to work.

Maybe phones like the Moto X offer hope of a new era of functional voice commands.

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via i.cbc.ca

Frankly I would far prefer the ability to carry out 10 simple functions...every time, without fail.

I don't need to be able to carry out a Google search on the history of the Giant Panda in the Shaanxi province of China or find the recipe for a Lemon Meringue Pie whilst driving my car.

What I would love from the Voice command feature set is:

  • An ability to easily call my top 4 contacts...my wife and 3 friends...each time...every time...no fuss.
  • An ability to start the music app..each time..every time.
  • An ability to pause the music app and also go to next track and previous track by voice. (If I could easily choose the playlist that would be a bonus.)
  • An ability to start my favourite podcast.
  • An ability to say 'Navigate Home'..and the car goes into GPS mode and navigates me home.

Now all of this of course is already available....in theory. I'd just like to find a way to get it to actually work..
Judging by the comments responding to this post I'm not alone....

Google Post


Voice control has tremendous potential...and I think companies like Google are on the right track.
I'm just looking forward to the day when the theory becomes the reality!
Maybe just starting off by mastering a few basics that consistently work would be a better first step than trying to achieve 'War and Peace' like proportions of voice control.

In my car is a place where I could really use it.