Search your Android phone with Google's free Voice Search

Add Google's Voice Search to your Android device with this free app.

Voice search is such a useful smartphone capability that yours may already have it (ours did). Maybe you already have Google's Voice Search, too. This free app integrates seamlessly with Google Search; just look for the microphone icon. Voice Search lets you search your phone or device, the Internet, and nearby locations just by speaking (clearly) into your phone. Even if you're not the best public speaker, Voice Search is smart enough to offer a range of suggestions, and it can learn to understand you, too. If your Android device doesn't have a built-in voice search app, you can simply download and install this Google app.

Although Voice Search integrates with Google Search, it has its own Settings, including Language, though when we installed it, the only language option was the default setting, English (U.S.). (Knowing Google's way with languages, though, it probably won't be long before updates offer more options.) There's a SafeSearch setting, which will be familiar to Google users; the default setting is Moderate, and the Block Offensive Words box is checked, too. Be aware that you'll have to turn off SafeSearch and uncheck the offensive word filter to receive unfiltered search results. Aside from a Google Account dashboard sign-in, there's just a Personalized Recognition option, which can improve the app's recognition of your speech. Help options include a Tutorial and Help Center.

We tapped the mike icon and spoke the name of a favorite app. Voice Search turned up a list of options under the heading, "Did you mean ..." the first of which was our app. Success, and pretty cool. But we'd spoken clearly. When we tried the same search again in a variety of cadences, dialects, and silly voices, Voice Search returned a much wider range of results, few of which came close to accuracy. So how clearly you speak influences how well Voice Search works. With time, though, you can train it to your speech rhythms. Then you'll find out what so many other users know: you needed this app. It's way easier than tapping and typing!

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