Android has actually had a robust voice command system in place for ages -- and the number of things it can do for you is expanding all the time.
In fact, Google may be preparing to unveil a newly rebranded and even more conversational version of its virtual assistant later this year, but you don't have to wait to start making the most of your mobile device's listening smarts.
Below, we've listed 160 commands that are fully functional and ready to be used right now. We've put words and phrases that are examples in [brackets]; additional explanations are in (parentheses). And when you see a command with two words separated by a slash (e.g., "Enable/disable battery saver mode"), you know to say just one or the other of the words, right? Thought so.
In many cases, Android is smart enough to recognize word variations; so, for example, it’ll respond whether you say “Turn Wi-Fi on,” “Turn on Wi-Fi” or “Enable Wi-Fi.” That’s not true in every case – for instance, it doesn’t (currently) know that “Pump up the volume” means “Turn up the volume” – but its vocabulary is growing all the time. It’s fun to experiment and see what works.
But before you start talking, a note: For a fully hands-free experience, you'll need to set up always-listening voice control, which will allow your phone to wake up and start listening anytime you say "OK, Google." To do that, open the Google app on your device, tap the menu icon in the upper-left corner and tap Settings. Next, tap Voice and then "OK Google" Detection. Follow the steps there to enable the system and train it to recognize your voice.
If you have an older device that doesn't support that option, you can still use the commands listed below; you'll just have to tap the microphone icon on your home screen first to start the listening process.
So what are you waiting for? Clear your throat and call your phone into action without having to lift a finger.
Device control and tools
- Turn Wi-Fi on/off
- Turn Bluetooth on/off
- Turn my flashlight on/off
- Turn airplane mode on/off
- Turn up/down the volume
- Dim/brighten the screen
- Enable/disable [battery saver mode] (and other system features, such as mute)
- Take a photo/selfie
- Record a video
- Set a timer for [10 minutes]
- Open [Yelp] (or any app)
- Open [computerworld.com] (or any website)
- Bubble level
- Flip a coin
- Roll a die
- Start a run (requires a fitness app like Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic or Endomondo)
Time, weather and current information
- What time is it in [Paris]?
- What time zone is [Phoenix] in?
- When is the sunset tonight?
- When's the sunrise in [London]?
- Do I need an umbrella today?
- Is it going to rain this weekend?
- When is it going to rain next?
- What's the weather in [Kalamazoo]?
- Will I need a jacket tomorrow?
- How hot is it gonna be on [Saturday]?
- When's the next [Cubs] game?
- What was the score of the [Cardinals] game last night?
- Did the [Marlins] win their last game?
- What's [Google] stock trading at today? (or just spell out a stock ticker symbol -- e.g., "G-O-O-G")
Location and navigation
- How's the traffic to work?
- Is [Steak 'n Shake] open right now?
- How late is [Office Depot] open?
- What time does [Target] open tomorrow?
- What's a good [Mexican] place near me?
- What's the best [sushi] nearby?
- What restaurants are near me?
- Where is the nearest [Burger King]?
- Where's a [museum] around here?
- Where's the closest [bowling alley]?
- What movies are playing nearby?
- Navigate to [123 South Main Street]
- Go to [California Pizza Kitchen] with public transportation
- Take me to [Bank of America] by foot
- Take me home
Messaging and communication
- Text [Grover] that [I'm running late]
- Send text to [Ernie], mobile -- [I enjoy cheese]
- Send email to [Gordon] -- [I'll call you in 20 minutes]
- Send email to [Guy Smiley]. Subject: [Pickles.] Body: [Dill is always the way to go]
- Send [Hangout] message to [Bert] -- [wanna grab lunch?] (also works with WhatsApp and other third-party messaging clients)
- Start a video call with [Maria]
- Post to Twitter -- [What a gorgeous day!] (requires Twitter app to be installed)
- Post to Google+ -- [Hello, all of you stunning people] (requires Google+ app to be installed)
- Check my voicemail
- Read my messages
- Call [Mom], mobile/home/work
- Call [my brother] on speakerphone
- Call [McDonald's on Third Street]
- Call the [Hilton in Downtown Chicago]
- What is [Zoe's] number?
- What's the phone number for [Applebee's]?
- What is area code ?
Organization and personal info
- Add to my [grocery] list (or any list name you want -- your phone will prompt you to speak the item or items you want to add; when finished, say either "finished" or "that's it")
- Add [Purchase beef] to my [to-do] list (or any list name you want; with this command as well as the previous command and the next two commands, you'll be able to choose to have the info saved into Google Keep or any other compatible note-taking app)
- Note to self: [The Beef Purchasers would be a good name for a band]
- Write this down for me: [There are different ways you can make a note to yourself by speaking]
- Remind me to [take out the trash] in [two hours]
- Remind me to [put out dog food] when [I get home]
- Remind me to call [the boss] when [I'm at the airport]
- Remind me to [eat at Canter's] next time [I'm in L.A.]
- Wake me up at [7 a.m.] [tomorrow]
- Set an appointment for a [haircut] [tomorrow at noon]
- When is my next meeting/appointment?
- What's my schedule for [July 17th]?
- What does my day look like on [the 3rd]?
- When is [Father's Day]?
- When will my package arrive? (requires shipping confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Show me my bills (requires bills to be present in Gmail)
- Show me my bills due this week/next week/[in July] (requires bills to be present in Gmail)
- Show me my photos from [France] (requires photos to be present in Google Photos)
Music and video
- Listen to [The Beatles]
- Listen to ["No Rain"]
- Listen to [party music]
- Play music for [working out]
- Listen to [Pearl Jam] on [Spotify]
- Next song
- Pause the music
- Play me [Soundgarden] videos on YouTube
- Show me the trailer for ["Ice Age 5"]
- What's this song? (identifies music playing out loud in the room)
- When does [United flight 1807] arrive?
- Is [Southwest 2093] on time?
- Is my flight on time? (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Find me a nonstop flight from [L.A. to Chicago]
- Show me my trip in [October] (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Show me my trip to [Chicago] (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Show me my hotel reservations (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Where's my hotel? (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Show me restaurants near my hotel (requires confirmation to be present in Gmail)
- Search for hotels in [Boston]
- Book me a table at [Plum Tree Inn] (requires OpenTable app to be installed)
- Translate ["sausage"] to [German]
- What's [French] for ["cheese"]?
Conversions and calculations
- What's  times ?
- What's [16.2] percent of [94.7]?
- What's [28 inches] in [millimeters]?
- What's  in [hexadecimal]?
- What's [25 U.S. dollars in [Euros]?
- What's the tip for [15 dollars]?
Food, drink and nutrition info
- Show me [salmon] recipes
- Show me things I can make with [chicken]
- How do I make a [Manhattan]?
- What's in a [margarita]?
- How many calories are in [popcorn]?
- How much fat is in [cheddar cheese]?
- What's the healthiest kind of [cheese]?
General knowledge and searches
- Who founded [Snapchat]?
- Who directed the first ["Harry Potter"]?
- Who's in the cast of ["Scrubs"]?
- Where did [Zach Braff] go to college?
- Where was [Jimmy Kimmel] born?
- How much is [Mark Zuckerberg] worth?
- When did [Johnny Carson] die?
- How did [Johnny Carson] die?
- What's [Natalie Portman's] real name?
- What movies has [Natalie Portman] been in?
- How tall is [Jennifer Lawrence]?
- How old is [Larry Page]?
- What's the definition of ["phobia"]?
- What are some synonyms for ["beautiful"]?
- Who's the CEO of [Google]?
- Who is [Marissa Mayer] married to?
- Who wrote ["In The Plex"]?
- What are the dimensions of ["Starry Night"]?
- When was the first episode of ["Seinfeld"]?
- What's the theme song to ["Friends"]?
- How long is ["The Angry Birds Movie"]?
- How long is the [Golden Gate Bridge]?
- How far away is the [moon]?
- What's the temperature of the [sun]?
- How tall is the [Statue of Liberty]?
- Show me photos of the [New York skyline]
- Search Twitter for [Olympics] (requires Twitter app to be installed)
- Search for [flowers] on Tumblr (requires Tumblr app to be installed)
- Play Pac-Man
- Go go gadget [Netflix] (or any other app name)
- Make me a sandwich
- Who's on first?
- Who are you?
- When am I?
- Beam me up, Scotty
- What is Matt Damon's Bacon number?
- What does the fox say?
- Do a barrel roll
- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
- What's the loneliest number?
- What's the answer to life, the universe and everything?
This story, "OK, Google: 160 valuable voice commands for Android" was originally published by Computerworld.