Voice recognition in Android isn’t something new. If you have been using Google Now and Google Voice Search you know that there are many commands you can execute by just saying “OK Google” followed by the thing you want your smartphone or tablet to do. But these voice recognition commands are confined to just Google Now or Google Voice Search. Now there is a way you can control your smartphone with speech in a completely different manner.
Rather than a generic feature, the latest voice recognition feature in Android is more of an accessibility technology update. Ideally, it will be mostly used by people who cannot use touchscreen or who are paralysed. Right now Voice Access (feature that allows you to use voice commands on Android devices) is in beta but once installed, according to this official Google blog post, the app allows people who have difficulty manipulating a touchscreen due to paralysis, tremor, temporary injury for any other reason that stops them from using the Android screen the way others do.
With Voice Access (voice recognition feature) in Android you can give commands like “open Chrome”, or “go Home” and even navigate around the phone by saying something like “Click Next” or “Scroll Down”, and such. This is the link from where you can download the Android voice recognition feature but it seems right now enough people have already downloaded the beta version and you may have to wait for a while.
Google has been gradually introducing voice recognition commands and even complete speech recognition in many apps and software applications. For example, these days you can use speech-to-text in Google Docs. This means you can dictate instead of typing, although dictation isn’t as good as it comes with dedicated commercial applications like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. On the other hand I have noticed that dictation is much better on smartphones compared to PCs.
Is this sort of voice recognition in Android same as Siri or Cortana? I don’t think so. I think those are personal assistants as far as I can make out. This new feature in Android will be a full-fledged speech command system that won’t depend on a particular app. For example, in order to be able to use Siri you need to be running Siri. But the I have used the voice recognition feature in iOS much so I’m not sure whether it is the same thing or something totally different.