Smart assistants have created a revolution in controlling everything with voice. From our smartphone to our living rooms, voice controlled systems are taking up everything. With the significant progress made in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, voice controlled applications can now understand different accents and do smart things. Taking advantage of that let’s try to control everything entirely with voice commands.
Control your entire phone by voice
Google launched an application last year that lets you control your phone inside out using voice commands. Going beyond the features smart voice assistants like Google Now offer, Google Voice Access lets your control individual apps using your voice. Although it’s targeted towards users having problems accessing the touch screen, it isn’t a typical accessibility app.
To start with, download “Voice Access” from the Play Store and install. Once installed, go to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Access > Turn on.
Voice Access app needs to be launched before you start controlling your phone using voice. However, launching the app needs touch intervention, thus, hindering the truly voice controlled functionality. To make everything truly hands-free, update the “Google” app on your phone. Once updated, launch it and navigate to Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” detection > and turn on “From any screen”. With this done, you can call the Google Voice Assistant and ask it to start “Voice Access” app.
Play content on your TV with your voice
If you have a smart TV and an Android phone, then you can create a voice-controlled media center for free. The idea here is to cast media from your phone to your TV using voice commands. To cast content from your phone, download and install “AllCast” app from the Play Store. Start the Google Voice Access service if not already started. Open AllCast app and call out for the photo number you want to cast. Also, you might need to call out for the device you want to cast your media on.
Automate your home using voice
Have you installed home automation gear into your house that can be controlled using an app? If yes, you can enhance the functionality of that existing app by making it listen to your voice commands. Using the Voice Access app mentioned above you can control every part of your home automation app with voice commands. Thus, saying “turn on light” will make your phone turn on the light for you. Isn’t it cool?
Enable Voice Operation on PlayStation 4
You’ll need the PlayStation Camera or a standard headset that you use while gaming to use the built-in voice operation mode. If you have the required gear, enable voice operation by navigating to Settings > System > Voice Operation Settings > check “Operate PS4 with Voice”. After enabling, you can access voice operation by saying “PlayStation” or hitting the “L2” button on the controller.
You can ask PS4 to ‘take screenshot’, ‘start/stop broadcast’, ‘turn off PS4’, ‘[game name]’etc.
Activate Cortana on Xbox One
You’ll need an Xbox compatible microphone or Kinect to voice command the console. If you have the required gear, double tap the “Xbox logo button” on the controller or if you are using Kinect just say “Xbox, go to settings”. Navigate to All Settings > System > Cortana settings > I agree > Restart now. After enabling just say “Hey Cortana!” and you’ll see Cortana listening to your commands in the top-right corner of the screen.
You can ask Cortana to ‘turn on Xbox’, ‘open game’, ‘volume up/down’, ‘search store’, etc.
Ask Cortana what your friends are doing
While you are using your Xbox One, you may ask Cortana to check what your friends are doing. Just ask “Hey Cortana, is (friend’s name) online?” or “What is (friend’s name) doing?”. She’ll tell you whether your Xbox Live friend is online and what he is doing. For example, “watching TV”.
Create custom Google Now commands
If you are bored with the Google-offered limited Google Now commands, you may create your own commands to enhance the functionality of the voice assistant. To do this you’ll need two apps – “AutoVoice” (free app) and ‘Tasker’ (paid app). Download and install the required apps from the Google Play Store. After you are done installing both the apps navigate to Settings > Accessibility > AutoVoice Google Now Integration > Turn on > OK.
After this, open Tasker app > hit the “+” button located at the bottom-right corner > Event > Plugin > AutoVoice Recognized > hit the “pencil” button > Speak Filter. Now say the custom command you want to create > choose the Voice Command you just said > hit the “tick button” located at the top-right corner.
Once you have created the custom command, you’ll have to associate the action for that command. Hit the back button > tap “New Task +” > tap the “tick button” > tap the “+” button > select the action from the given list, and if your action doesn’t appear in the given list you may search for it > select the action > provide an action to it > Exit Tasker.
Your custom Google Now command is ready to be executed. Just say “Ok Google” followed by your custom command to execute it.
Make your own Amazon Echo using Raspberry Pi
Amazon Echo is an amazing device. Unfortunately, it is not officially available in India yet. If you want Amazon Alexa to be the part of your living room you can make your own using a Raspberry Pi and some hardware you can find in your home. It is a lengthy procedure but not at all complex. Just follow the guide at http://dgit.in/GuideAEcho.
Control Echo-Pi using your smartphone
If you have built the Amazon Echo using Raspberry Pi, you know it doesn’t wake up to the “Alexa” command. Pressing a button on the Echo-Pi every time isn’t convenient. To deal with this, you can use your smartphone installed with Alexa companion app. As Echo-Pi offers nearly all the features from the original Echo, you’ll also be able to use the companion app to voice control Alexa from your phone.
Control Google Chrome using voice commands
Why type URLs when you can just call them? Adding voice commands to Google Chrome is easy and reliable. Once added, it will be one of the most extensively used features. To make Chrome listen to your commands, you’ll need an extension. Although there are many voice commands extensions available, we will recommend “Voice Actions for Chrome” extension as it is more reliable than others. Add the Voice Actions extension to Chrome.
After adding, a small microphone icon will be placed next to the settings button. Click on it and say your command. You can ask it to “go to [website]”, “switch to [tab title]”, “pictures of [topic]”, “calculate [expression]”. Rather than manual access each time you want to use it, go to “chrome://extensions/” > scroll to the end of the page > Keyboard shortcuts > add a shortcut to “Voice Actions for Chrome” extension > OK. At least now it’s assigned to a shortcut.
Let Cortana automatically remind you of your commitments
Cortana on Windows 10 is updated with a cool new feature that will automatically remind you to do things that you mentioned in email. This latest feature is handy if you rely on Outlook or Microsoft 365 for mail. To do this, first sign in to Cortana using your Microsoft account, go to Notebook > Permissions > check “Communications History”. Go back to Notebook > Connected Services > turn on Outlook and/or Microsoft 365.
Once you have enabled this, Cortana will scan through your emails to automatically create a reminder based on your communication. Just ask Cortana “show my reminders” and it will give you the list of things that you have committed to.
Use voice commands to install Windows 10
The “Creators Update” for Windows 10 is going to bring a cool feature in April that lets you install a fresh copy of Windows 10 assisted by Cortana. This means you go through the operating system installation using your voice. You don’t need to be connected to the internet to use this feature. Creators Update is scheduled for April and starting then you’ll be able to install Windows 10 using voice commands. We have tested it on the insider preview of the Creators Update and it works just as expected.
Make Siri talk to you like LEGO Batman
Siri just learned a new trick. It will talk to you as if you’re LEGO Batman if you say “Hey computer”.
Find your Android phone using Cortana
Microsoft has released Cortana for Android and iOS. If you are bored with Google Now or Siri you might like to try Cortana for a change. However, apart from this, if you are a Windows 10 and Android user, you can ask Cortana to find your phone from your Windows 10 PC. To do this, download and install Cortana from Play Store, login with the same Microsoft account you use on your Windows 10 machine. Once you have set up Cortana, go to your Windows 10 PC and ask Cortana “Find my phone”. It will automatically find it for you on the map.
Use Siri on Mac to quickly search files
As Siri is now a part of Mac you can use it to quickly search files for you. Instead of going through the Finder to get your file, just ask Siri “show the file that I was working on yesterday” and it will quickly show you all the files that you have modified the last day. This is a neat feature and an advanced search query that will save a lot of time looking for the file. It even works if you ask Siri to find files that you were working last week or even last month.
This article was first published in April 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.