Google is at it again! Creating stuff that is actually useful.
Following on from their translation system, Goggle has created Live Transcribe – an app on the Play store for Android devices.
Install it, run it and whatever you say is immediately transcribed and appears on your phone screen. Great for those who are deaf or have problems lip-reading when everyone is wearing a face-mask.
Simple and clever.
interpreter has been a great feature of Google’s Home voice
assistants, but they need to be plugged in.
Now the service has leapt
onto Android devices. If you need to talk to someone in another
language. Just say ‘hey google’ and something like ‘help me
speak Spanish’. Hold the phone between the two of you and start
speaking. When you stop, Google translates into the other language
and keeps doing that so two of you can converse.
I’ve tested it with my
limited language skills and it’s pretty good. Whilst our data
roaming rights around the EU continue, I can see it being really
useful to lots of us.
There are a number of times when we want to have a record of our
calls or just use it to dictate.
One I am trying is Otter voice
notes for Android and Apple. This can be added to all your
devices so you can manage the system on your computer. The free
version gives 600 minutes of transcription per month. It is able to
identify and indicate different voices, group recordings as well as
let one search inside the calls. You may also upload audio files for
recorder and audio editor from TapMedia is just for Apple.
The free version will record for as long and as often as you want
until you have filled the phone up. You can also use cloud storage or
move recordings to your computer. Transcription is an add-in that can
Life is harder if you want to record phone calls using an app.
Apple doesn’t allow this and Android seems to stamping on it from
Android 9 and up. In the meantime there are various free
call-recording apps for Android.
The only long-term recording solutions involve setting up a
conference call to connect a remote recorder.
I’ve been friends with ‘Alexa’ for quite a while now and she just gets better and better.
Some of the latest advances are:
- grouping Echo devices together into groups so that you can play the same music or radio station to a number of Echo devices at the same time. Great if you move around a lot. Go to settings-multi room music.
- Having multiple profiles, like users on a computer. In the past there was only one Amazon account associated with Alexa so any appointment you set went to the same calendar, anything you bought was charged to the same card, etc. To do this, open the alexa app or go to the web site, go to settings and find ‘Household Profile’ – it’s quite a long way down!
- Sign in with your password and then get other users to do the same and link their account. Now you can just say ‘Alexa change account’ to swap to another person. ‘Alexa which account is this’ will tell you who is active. A word of warning – purchases will still be billed to your card!
- Controlling other devices. So many are now enabled for Alexa. I control my heating by voice, can turn sockets on and off and stream music to my hi-fi. It’s even possible to control vacuum cleaners!
- Use them as intercoms. Saying ‘alexa drop in on <device name>. This opens up the speakers and microphones on both devices immediately– so be careful what you mutter!
I dipped my toe in with two Echo Dots. Once I got to see what I could do I realised that maybe I should have got the bigger devices but help is at hand. There are several docks that add bigger speakers for a better sound and some have a battery so that you can unplug the Dot from the mains and have all the capabilities in the garden to stream music, do what it is told, etc.
If you upgrade to an Echo with more capabilities, then you may give your old one to a friend. Make sure you remove that Echo from your Amazon account. Open the Alexa app and settings, find the device that’s going and then deregister in the ‘about’ section. Otherwise you might find your credit card being too stretched!
Alexa in Amazon Echo limits calendar operations in Echo to Amazon and Google calendars. Yet many of us use outlook, iCloud, etc. The Freebusy Scheduling Assistant skill works with many more calendars to help set up new meetings, check your calendar and to check whether colleagues are available.
If you like to keep on top of your web traffic analytics, Web Analytics connects to Google Analytics and can give you real-time.
Many software producers are also adding Alexa skills to their products. Might be worth checking out via a search engine.
Even without a prime account, there is quite a bit of internet radio available, so I’ve coupled my Echo Dot to my stereo for better quality with a Bluetooth receiver.
In the name of research I bought an Amazon Echo Dot. This is an audio device about the size of a tin of tuna that interacts with you. The Echo is a bigger device with a larger speaker.
I plugged it in and connected to the wifi. Then I said ‘Alexa what is the weather forecast for tomorrow’ and it told me! Basically it sits there listening for the word ‘Alexa’, when it wakes up and does what you say, such as ‘set a timer for five minutes‘ when I’m cooking, ‘add toothpaste to my shopping list‘ when I realize I need some, ‘what’s the temperature outside‘ when I leave the house or ‘add a meeting Sunday at two with Mike‘ to my diary.
New technology is the world that I work in, but I am really impressed – it’s brilliant. Compared to Siri, Google now and Cortana, I just talk to it so I don’t have to find my phone, login and whatever. I just talk anywhere downstairs and it hears me. A complete barrier to use has been removed and it is a real personal assistant.
Echo is from Amazon but you are not limited to their services. I might be a bit of a tech user, but here are a few examples of what I’ve connected Echo to:
- my Google calendar so appointments I set up via Alexa go straight to my phone;
- Evernote for my shopping list so I have the list when I’m at the shops;
- my Hive heating system so I can say ‘set the temperature to 20 degrees” when I wake up and it’s cold;
and it just works. I really am so impressed that I’m off to buy another for upstairs.
Microsoft includes speech recognition for it’s own programs and now Google has joined in. If you use Google Docs via the Chrome web browser, you can now dictate to your device.
Open a document and Click ‘tools’ at the top and then select ‘voice typing’. You should see a large microphone icon appear and the words ‘click to speak’. Do that and then chat away.