This Oct. 19, 2011 blog post is mirrored from an internal site at Lee Enterprises, my current employer, where I blog about mobile, tablet and other emerging tech. I thought it might be handy to those outside the company too, so I’m cross-posting it here.
One of your most basic reporting tools just got a whole lot more powerful with the help of your mobile phone: your voice.
Voice tools on mobile phones are exploding and offering new ways to communicate, multitask, interact and organize your life and work. Whether you’re running between assignments and need to send quick email or text message to your boss, get an address for your source’s location, checking the weather to know if you need rain gear for your lenses, Tweet news tidbits or one of the many other actions, your voice’s power just got amplified.
The new iPhone 4s offers a tool called Siri has a great number of commands it responds to. Unfortunately, the Siri program is only available on the iPhone 4s. Someone has hacked it to work on an iPhone 4 but it requires jailbreaking and might get shut down by Apple.
Google’s Android mobile operating system has been the pioneer in the voice conversion arena from their launch of Google Voice automatically translating voicemail-to-text to their Android keyboards which always include voice-to-text buttons. Available on all Android phones, Google also offers a handful of voice actions available natively within the phone.
There’s also a handful of third-party apps available to get more robust “Siri-like” personal assistant options (Vlingo is my personal favorite on Android, although I use the stock Google voice commands most frequently.)
Somewhat related and very interesting and useful for those of us that cover multi-cultural beats — there’s a new version of Google Translate with an enriched “conversation” mode (currently in Alpha, so it’s not perfect) and additional language support. The app can both listen and speak for you, translating the message on both sides. It’s breathtakingly amazing. So if you’re out on assignment and find yourself trying to communicate with someone who’s not a native English speaker, you can use this tool to help communicate in more than 50 languages from Afrikaans to Yiddish.