How to: Use Android Voice Commands to Send Messages

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– By Jeffrey Taylor

This post originally appeared on his blog The Droid Lawyer, where he  blogs extensively about lawyers’ use of Android devices.
Taylor is a Principal in Absolute Legal Services, LLC in Oklahoma City, OK.
Learn more at one of the two Android-themed sessions he will present at ABA TECHSHOW 2015.

One of my favorite Android features is the ability to use voice commands to dictate messages and retrieve information. I’ve spent time discussing voice commands, including how to properly add punctuation. But at least according to a comment from one reader, I haven’t really discussed how to use voice commands to use voice commands to create and send messages without ever pressing a button.

Activate Google Now

Google Now is the essential component in order to get voice commands to work properly. If you’re not familiar with Google Now, get there. And if you’re not using Google Now Launcher, you should be. (Commandr for Google Now adds even more capabilities.)

Google Now acts as the brain center, or “command and control,” to enable your Android device to provide relevant information to you.

Google Now Card

Google Now’s cards present information based on your preferences, locations, and email messages.

Google Now Card

“Ok Google, send a message”

For our purposes in this post though, we’re only concerned about the “Ok Google” command that we’ll combine with the “send an email” or “send a [text] message” command — review this post for other useful commands.

In our case, the reader would like to send his message with voice commands. Unfortunately, Android voice commands don’t have the “send this” command capability when you’re working in an already opened message. However, if you start correctly, Google Now can walk you through the process.

To start (and for the future) make sure you’re on the Google Now screen, or you have universal listening activated — Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” Detection > From any screen.

Now you’ll simply say, “Ok Google, send an email to [Contact Name]” or “Ok Google, send a (text) message to [Contact Name].” Note that the parenthesis indicates the word isn’t required to make the function work.

email message google now

And also note that you can set up contextual relationships such as father, brother, mother, sister, and wife. Just say something like, “Ok Google, call [text or email] my wife,” and Google Now will help set that relationship for the future.

message google now

Google Now walks you through the process of finding the contact, creating the message, and pressing send. If the contact has more than one email or phone number, Google Now will also ask for the right address or number to send the message.

send email address google now

Google Now will ask you for the message content, and then transcribe what you say.

google now transcribed message

You’ll finish by telling Google whether you’d like to send the message by answering “yes” or “no” to the final guided question.

This method is definitely intended for shorter messages or quick replies, so take that fact into consideration before you decide to send a scathing response to opposing counsel. I’ve also noticed that Google’s not a strict grammarian, thus you might notice missing punctuation and capitalization in some of your messages — check outmy punctuation commands post to help. And depending on your driving conditions, the final transcription can get dicey; you might end up sending several follow-up texts or emails just to correct your mistakes — don’t forget the “dos” and “don’ts” post. Incidentally, you can tap on the message and correct the text before sending, but you’ll no longer be “hands free.”

A new hands free horizon

In a short time you’ll master the ins and outs of voice to text that’ll enable you to become a “hands-free Jedi.” I’ve abandoned typing (and spelling and grammar) for many of my non-essential messages. Google Now lets me create and send messages without ever touching my Android device.

  • Dan Hennagir

    Where does “OK Google” search for contacts? I say “Text Bob” and it asks, “Which Bob? Bob or Bobs Dentist or Bobs Burgers or Bobs Accountant?” The ONLY CONTACT IN MY PHONE is for Bob. Where is “OK Google” getting these other (long ago deleted) contacts?

  • Russell

    when I say Okay Google text wife and when I actually say something like hi it will actually bring up the web browser and it will be searching text wife or text Mom or text and whoever I’m texting does anybody have this problem and can anybody help me with this problem

  • Lauren from Australia

    How do I change the contact details? Eg if I’m saying Ring Bob’s work mobile but then I delete that number and I want to ring a new number by saying Ring Bob’s mobile for example, how do I change the voice command to correspond with a new number?

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