LG's rumored always-on voice commands sound amazingEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
When you saw the laundry list of features that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 boasts, what was your initial thought? After you looked over the list, and you saw all those fancy features with the word "smart" in front of them, did you immediately think they were all gimmicks? Just cheap tricks to get you to buy the phone? Or did you think all those new abilities added to the overall quality of the device, and justified its price tag?
Where you fall on either side of that fence depends on a lot of things. The truth is, I personally think that some of those features are indeed just gimmicks. However, I will also admit that I believe Samsung does indeed add quite a bit of value to their devices, courtesy of the built-in software features. If they are gimmicks, then they're simply gimmicks because they're new technology, or even just new ideas using old tech.
If they are a gimmick, then they are a gimmick now, and will hopefully become the standard at some point in the future.
Samsung's marketing played a big role in my attitude towards the features they've packed into their newest flagship device. If you just see them on paper, or even two pieces of paper, you may just shake your head and dismiss the majority of them, simply because you're a traditionalist and you want to use your phone like everyone else (who doesn't own a GS 4), or even how you used to use your phone before you picked up the new shiny toy from Samsung.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to use your phone the way you used to use your phone. The touchscreen on our phones are still there to be touched after all. But obviously Samsung wants you to interact with your phone in new and different ways. And, in some specific situations, they want you to interact with your phone that makes it easier on you.
So, what's easier than waving your hand in front of your phone's display? How about voice? Voice is pretty easy, right? I mean, sure, you've got to hit a button to activate the voice controls, but once you get passed that little hurdle, you're good to go. Just tell your phone what you want, and as long as the command is supported, it gets done. No taps on the display. No digging in menus. No reading text messages. Your phone is there to serve you, and with a gentle prod from your vocal chords, your wish will be done.
How can we make voice easier? Well, what if we remove that whole button pressing thing, and just have voice controls always on?
Wait, wait. You're telling me that already exists, sort of? Why yes, yes it does! The Galaxy S III, and now the Galaxy S 4, both feature the ability to wake the device from its slumber by saying something like, "Hi, Galaxy." After you do that, you're able to throw a few more voice commands at your phone, courtesy of S Voice. Easy, right?
Apparently that isn't easy enough, because LG wants to try their hand at making it even more streamlined. According to a report from Gotta Be Mobile, LG is currently gearing up to launch a phone in 2014 with always-on voice commands. So, your phone is always listening, just waiting for you to tell it to do something.
The obvious question you should be asking yourself is, "How is that different than what Samsung has?" Well, S Voice's abilities are pretty restricted, just as Apple's Siri is restricted, and Microsoft's Windows Phone's voice controls are pretty straight forward in their role. Google Now, too, just can't quite do everything (except read your mind). So, how is LG planning on making it better?
Well, they plan on incorporating the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, for one. But, more than that, they plan on making it possible for someone to literally tell their phone to do anything, and it will do it. In the initial report, it's suggested that the owner of this new LG-branded device could open Google Maps, and then tell their phone to zoom in, or pan right, or zoom out.
You'd be able to switch home screen displays. You'd be able to open, start, close, transition, and everything else on your device without ever touching it. All by telling it what to do. This is, obviously, just the next logical step for voice commands on our devices, and indeed there are rumors out there that hint that LG may not be the only company planning this sort of new movement in their phones.
Samsung would be an obvious shoe-in for this sort of thing. But, could you imagine a phone like Motorola's upcoming X Phone with this technology? Combine the action of voice commands for every part of your phone with the sensors that know where your phone is at all times? That's a pretty exciting idea right there.
I love new technology in phones, and if LG (and any other manufacturer working on this idea) can make it work flawlessly right out of the box, then I think there's definitely a place for always-on voice commands in our phones. Though, I can only imagine how it would look with someone sitting in a coffee shop, telling their phone over and over again to pan in and out of a Google Maps session.
So tell me what you think of the idea. Would you use a feature like that at all? If you have a Galaxy S-branded device with S Voice, do you use the similar feature now? Would you use it more of its functionality was broadened significantly? Or, do you think this is a pointless idea? Let me know!