The Android voice command system is pretty stellar out of the box. But there are times when it misses the mark or the built-in system doesn't have a command for what you need. That's where apps like MyVoice comes in. With this free (and ad-free) app, you can interact with your phone in a much more natural way. For example:
- To open camera, you can say either "Open camera" or "Say cheese"
- To search media, you can say "List to (query)," "Play (query)," or "Watch (query)"
- To install an application, you can say "Install (query)"
This list goes on and on. In fact, you can even install new voices (commands), customize existing voices, and even create your own—all done from the MyVoice website.
The most appealing things about MyVoice is that it only adds to the built-in voice control system, instead of installing a third-party system. This means that the service will be more reliable. And the fact that it can customize commands makes it pretty remarkable.
How do you use this fantastic app? It's simple. Let's take a look.
Installing MyVoice is as easy as installing any app from the Google Play Store:
- Open the Google Play Store from your Android device
- Search for MyVoice
- Locate and tap the entry by Oded Niv
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once the installation is finished, open the app from your app drawer.
From the main window, you'll notice the command button in the form of a bubble with a V (Figure A). Tap that, and then speak your command. "What command," you ask? There are several examples at your disposal.
MyVoice running on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
If you tap the upward pointing arrow, you can scroll through a listing of available commands (Figure B).
The built-in MyVoice commands.
To create a new voice or modify an existing event, go to the MyVoice website and log in with your Google Account. The company has set up a fairly simple system for modify and creating voices. Go to the Voices page, find a command to be edited, and click the edit button (pencil) associated with that command. Say, for example, you want to use the command "event" instead of "Create event." Click on the edit button for the Create Event voice, and then enter event at (hour) (minute) in (days) days. Click Update Voice, and your new command will be saved (Figure C).
Editing a previously existing voice in MyVoice.
Now, from the MyVoice app, you need to log in with the same Google account you used on the website. To do this, open the app and tap the menu button (bottom left). Click the Login button at the top (Figure D), and all of your new commands (created from the website) will update on the app.
Logging into your MyVoice account.
With the new voice created, tap the voice command button, and speak the new command.
The only caveat is that not all voices you create will be successful. I highly recommend that you read through the manual (which is quite helpful) to get a full understanding about finer points of creating and editing voices.
If you don't want to have to open MyVoice every time you need to speak a command, you can enable the Floating bubble option (from within the app settings). This will place a moveable MyVoice command button on your home screen (Figure E).
The MyVoice floating bubble command button.
When you tap the floating bubble, you'll be prompted to select a default app to use for the action.
If you're looking for a way to customize the voice commands on your Android device, MyVoice might be just what you're looking for. Try it out, and see if it doesn't help make Android voice commands a bit more natural for you.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.