In April, Google launched custom voice actions on Android, allowing users to control select third-party apps simply by starting with the “Ok Google” command. Today, that Google Now functionality has expanded to messaging apps, including WhatsApp, WeChat, NextPlus, Telegram, and Viber.
If you already use “Ok Google” and your voice to send emails, Hangouts, or text messages, this should be a natural progression. You can split the task into two, or just do it all in one go.
If you say, “Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message to Joe,” you’ll get a prompt asking you to dictate your message. Alternatively, you can just say: “Ok Google, send a Viber message to Josh: let’s do dinner tomorrow night.”
Here is an example using WhatsApp:
To be able to take advantage of this new feature, you do need to update both the Google app for Android and your individual messaging apps. If either is outdated, you’ll just get an error message or a bunch of search results.
This functionality is only available in English, but the good news is it’s not limited to the U.S. as is often the case with new Google features. Furthermore, the company says it will be working to add more apps and languages “in the future.”
In January, Google updated its main Android app with a big enhancement to Google Now: Serving cards from third-party apps right when they have timely information to provide. The new functionality was supported by an initial 40 apps, and in April, Google added 70 more partners to the mix.
Today’s integration is thus part of a broader push from Google on mobile that isn’t limited to just voice commands. The company is opening up its Google app to third-party services so they can provide users with more features while also offering an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
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