Google lets you launch Android camera by voice command

An update to Google's search app lets Android users launch their phone's camera, in photo or video mode, with a voice command.

"With the Google Search App on Android, you can just tap the microphone or say 'OK Google,' then 'take a photo' or 'take a video.' Google will launch your camera app in the preferred mode," Google said in a Google+ post on Wednesday night.

I couldn't get it to work with video in my test today on a Nexus 5, but the "take a picture" and "take a photo" … Read more

WhatsApp to go big on voice communications in 2nd quarter

BARCELONA, Spain -- Mobile messaging startup WhatsApp will expand to voice communications in the second quarter, co-founder and chief executive Jan Koum announced Monday.

"We want to make sure people always have the ability to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones really affordably," Koum said in a speech here at Mobile World Congress. "We're going to introduce voice on WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year."

The startup has steadily risen in importance through a simple text-messaging service based on people's mobile phone numbers but avoiding carriers' common text-messaging charges. … Read more

BBM iOS, Android users can soon make free phone calls

BlackBerry Messenger users can tap into a potpourri of new features when the app is updated on Thursday.

Slated to reach iOS and Android users, version 2.0 of BBM will bring with it BBM Voice, a way to call your BBM contacts. Already available for BlackBerry OS, BBM Voice gives you the ability to make free phone calls to other BBM users via your Wi-Fi or data connection.

Another new feature on the list is BBM Channels, a chat discussion forum devoted to a variety of topics. Find a channel that interests you, and you can join in on … Read more

Mozilla gets into content creation with Voices

Open jobs for engineers are plentiful at Mozilla, the browser maker, privacy advocate, and open Internet proponent. But the company has only one opening for editor-in-chief, a new role listed only for the past two weeks.

Mozilla, as is the case with many other companies, is getting into what the tech world has come to call with not even a scintilla of irony, "content creation." Not unlike similar positions at other Internet firms, the new role at Mozilla would be to make videos and write blogs, while creating and curating an editorial voice that dovetails with Mozilla's … Read more

Start Google Now with your voice on the Galaxy Note 3

Handsets with the Google Experience Launcher, like the Moto X, allow you to launch Google Now by simply saying "OK Google." To add this functionality to most Android phones, you'd have to install the Google Launcher, which would override the launcher currently in use (even custom ones).

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, you don't have to override your current launcher to get convenient access to Google Now; the always listening feature is built-in, it's just pointed to the wrong app (S Voice). By using one app, S for Switch Voice, you can use the … Read more

How to work around Straight Talk's visual voice mail limitation

As I mentioned in my recent post comparing no-contract iPhone options, last month I ditched AT&T in favor of Straight Talk, which gives me more or less the same exact service for considerably less money.

Just one problem: Straight Talk doesn't support visual voice mail. In fact, on my iPhone 4S, I receive no notification whatsoever that new messages are waiting for me. It's not often an issue, but the last thing I want is to miss an important message from a work contact or family member.

I immediately thought of YouMail, a visual voice mail … Read more

CES 2014: Startups steal the show

The importance of CES as a showcase for major consumer product launches has undoubtedly lessened over the past few years. Big companies choose to launch their big products at smaller events; places where they can control the tone, control the tempo, and control the access. Thankfully, that opening void has been more than filled by two things: cars and startups.

It's the latter category that's been really opening our eyes of late, small, independent entrepreneurs and crowd-funded darlings who have been filling the halls of CES' Eureka Park with an unpredictable collection of frequently awesome products and services. … Read more

ZTE, Nuance hit the road with eyes-free, hands-free biometric voice command

Phone manufacturer ZTE and Nuance Communications, provider of a wide range of voice recognition software, are teaming up at CES 2014 to announce an updated and enhanced Car Mode application for ZTE's Android devices.

The ZTE Car Mode app will provide an eye-free, hands-free way to interact with these phones on the go. Nuance is providing new voice biometrics tech for the screen unlock, enabling the hardware to recognize a voice command from a specific person's voiceprint to activate and access different functions and modes without physical contact.

For example, as part of a new feature called Music … Read more

The ADT home security empire strikes back at CES

These days, consumers interested in protecting their homes have more options than ever before, thanks to security-minded home automation services like SimpliSafe and fee-free, crowd-funded DIY upstarts like Piper and iSmartAlarm that continue to improve. That spells trouble for established industry leaders like ADT, as an increasing number of consumers are finding better value with the little guys.

Today, ADT answered back, announcing a sweeping list of upgrades to ADT Pulse, its premier home security package. Chief among these is the ADT Pulse Voice app, which will enable users to manage their home security and automation needs by way of … Read more

Audience's VoiceQ keeps smartphone ears perked for your commands

LAS VEGAS -- Although you may have never heard of Audience, the California-based company manufactures voice and audio processors found in several well-known devices, including the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Google Nexus 10 tablet.

Today at CES, it announced a new family of four audio processors and codecs. Dubbed the "eS700 series," the suite features VoiceQ software, which enable users to activate commands on their mobile devices using only their voice.

For instance, you can wake up your smartphone or have your tablet play music by simply saying a key, preprogrammed phrase like "OK, phone, [… Read more