Forward-looking businesses are starting to explore the possibilities of introducing voice control into their applications. Therefore, we are seeing a noticeable increase in Android apps with voice-operated software that provide a hands-free experience.
We’ve gathered some of the most popular and useful hands-free apps for Android to see what they can offer and why other businesses should be heading in that direction as well.
The term “hands-free” refers to equipment or software that requires limited or no use of hands. One of the most popular ways to access controls for hands-free apps is through voice. The main goal is to make sure all users can use features within the app – regardless of their ability to physically operate the device.
Voice is being integrated into all kinds of devices, and it’s reshaping the usual state of things. Here are a few reasons why making your application hands-free is a good idea, business-wise and in general:
- Convenience – Hands-free apps can be used anywhere: while driving, doing chores around the house, carrying things, or when you’re simply far away from the device.
- Accessibility – These apps can be operated by people with limited hand mobility, those who are visually impaired, and other groups in need of assistive technology.
- Time efficiency – In many situations, making a quick call takes less time than typing a lengthy message and waiting for a response. The same principle applies to voice control; it requires no clicks, no typing, or any other time-consuming actions.
- Simplicity – Users don’t have to be familiar with the interface to handle it. Unlike traditional apps, you hardly need any computer literacy or technical skills.
- Multi-use – Voice control isn’t strictly tied to one function. This kind of software is incredibly versatile in terms of potential applications.
Hands-free technology is particularly useful in countries where it’s illegal to use a handheld mobile phone when you drive. These laws have been adopted in many jurisdictions around the world, which gave developers another incentive to develop the technology.
The market of hands-free applications is an interesting space right now. Let’s look at the best offerings available in the Play Store for Android users.
1. Google Assistant
Google Assistant is considered an undisputed champion of personal assistant apps developed for Android. Although it may not work on every device, the coverage is extensive. In addition to running the app on your phone, you can also integrate with smart devices such as Philips Hue lights.
The assistant can run basic functions like making calls, sending texts, emails, setting alarms and reminders, etc. On top of that, you can look up weather reports and news updates, send web searches, and play music. The range of features is constantly getting updated and expanded.
The company states the app was originally designed for people with disabilities and conditions like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. However, it should come in useful for anyone who’s multitasking or has their hands full. To activate Google Assistant, users need to say “OK Google,” and it will be all ears.
2. Amazon Alexa
Amazon Alexa has pushed the trend of endless integration with many emerging smart home devices to the forefront. Contrary to popular belief, this service runs not only on Amazon Echo but also on mobile devices.
Alexa for Android is mostly used to control integrated devices. But the functionality also supports web searches, playing music, and even ordering deliveries. If you want to launch the hands-free app, say “Alexa” and it will be ready to hear commands whether the screen is on or off.
The device restrictions are by far the biggest downside of Amazon Alexa. So far, there is a limited number of mobile phones supporting this system. However, in terms of its abilities and intelligence, it rightly occupies the top of the list.
Bixby is a relatively new addition, but it is already among the best. It’s important to mention that it’s only compatible with Samsung devices. The company may be looking into other platforms, but at this point, it only runs on devices and appliances connected to Samsung’s proprietary hub.
The app can accomplish a variety of tasks – from sending text messages and responding to basic questions to activating other applications in the device (dialer, settings menus, camera app, contacts list, and gallery).
One of the greatest benefits of Bixby is that it adapts to the user’s voice and manner of speaking. From the get-go, it can understand different request variations like “Show me today’s weather,” “What’s the weather like?” or “What’s the forecast for today?” and it only gets smarter with time.
Powered by Nuance, which is the technology behind Siri, Dragon Mobile has been in operation for many years. Essential functionality includes dictating emails, checking traffic and weather, sharing your location, and a lot more.
There are also many customizable features aimed at simplifying how you live, work, and spend leisure time – all while minimizing touch-based interactions. Users can add their unique and personalized Nuance Voiceprint. Then, voice biometrics will only let a designated user talk and ask questions.
You can also set your own wake-up word. Unlike other services, this one gives you options to launch it with “Hi, Dragon”, “What’s up,” or anything else you like. The company is working on adding languages other than English, as well as support for the international market.
While the apps described above cover the most widely used basic functionalities, Hound takes a step further. Along with doing simple searches, it can accomplish advanced tasks such as hotel booking, a sing/hum music search, looking up stocks, or even calculating a mortgage. On a lighter side, you can play interactive games like Hangman.
The company launched partnerships with Yelp and Uber to make features like getting restaurant information and hailing a ride more precise. Another interesting feature is that it can translate whole sentences practically in real-time.
This speech-based app is only available for United States residents. However, the process of getting the app out of beta and ready for public consumption was pretty quick, so we may see some international development. Also, there are still occasional bugs within the app.
Robin has been around for a while as one of the original “Siri alternatives”. Like its counterparts, the app supports calling, sending messages, and providing the latest information on the weather, news, and more. However, the functionality still needs some work.
Intentionally or not, a lot of features available on Robin are related to car use. For example, it offers GPS navigation, gives live traffic updates, and shows the prices for gas directly on the map. You can even specify what kind of gas you need, and it will guide towards the closest station.
To call the app into action, you can tap on the microphone button, say “Robin,” or just wave hello twice in front of your phone (which is quite a unique innovation).
AIVC stands for Artificial Intelligent Voice Control. It comes in two versions: free, which contains a number of ads, and Pro. The former option covers basic functionality, whereas the Pro one provides some appealing features like TV-Receiver control, wake up mode, and others. You can control devices that are accessible over a web interface with your own preset commands.
As far as voice commands go, the app gives you the option to define specific phrases to invoke a certain action. This is done to minimize the risk of the app not understanding what you want.
AIVC performs actions on other websites and services so you can compose emails, make Facebook posts, or move over to a navigation app.
DataBot is one of the simpler Android Personal assistants. You can play around with it, ask for jokes and riddles, or do other goofy stuff, but it can actually be pretty useful for various tasks. You can ask the bot to make searches online, schedule events, and make calls by just using your voice.
It is a cross-platform application so you can sync it across all your devices: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. That way, you get a coherent, all-around hands-free experience. Also, DataBot gains experience while you’re using it.
A slight inconvenience that DataBot has is that it comes with ads and in-app purchases. If you aren’t bothered by that, it should be a good addition to your daily routine.
9. Car Dashdroid
Car Dashdroid includes everything you could possibly need while driving – navigation, music, contacts, messages, voice commands, and more. It is also integrated with popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger.
What makes this app stand out as a specifically car-oriented solution is that it comes with a compass, speedometer, and plenty of other features.
There are also customization blocks that help you arrange all tasks based on their priority. For example, if you mostly use the app for navigation, you can put it at the top. Then, you can place music control below navigation, and the list of frequently contacted people at the bottom.
Drivemode is a simple app meant to assist users while they’re driving. Users can select from their preferred navigation app (for example, Google Maps, Waze, and HERE Maps). You can also input favorite destinations (such as home, work, and so on), play music from multiple supported apps, and access messages in a low-distraction “driving mode” overlay with audio prompts.
Even though it’s not entirely hands-free, there is a function that presents shortcuts that you can access through tapping or swiping. Drivemode can also be integrated with Google Assistant, so the functionality can potentially be extended way beyond driving assistance.
Integrating a Hands-Free Experience with Alan
Voice AI offers immense benefits for businesses – from completing tasks more quickly to offering better user experience with verbal communication. You can add unique voice conversations, no matter the industry you’re in. The Alan platform allows you to implement hands-free, interactive functionality in your existing application with ease.