Hands on with Google’s new relationship-based voice recognition and calling (video)


Since the relatively early days of Android, Google has let us use our voice to do somewhat common tasks like sending text messages or emails. I could say “Send a text message to Bendito Papendorf: hey, I love the new book!”. But who is Bendito Papendorf, and why can’t I say “Send a text message to Mom”?

Before we dig into this new feature, be advised that it’s relatively new and might be rolling out in stages. If you haven’t gotten it yet, be patient. Next, there’s been a work around to this in the past. If you create an entry in your contacts with the name of “Mom”, you’ve probably been able to do this for quite a while. If you wanted “Mom” to have her real name in your address book, however, you could add a “Nickname” field, which might work, but not as reliably.

The “relationships” update to Google Now will let you set up those types of associations on the fly. No more hacks or work around required. Hit play and we’ll show you how to do it.

Google Now Relationships

To get started, all you need to do is go to your home screen (or Google Now, if you’re not using the Google Experience Launcher) and say “Okay Google, call Mom”. At that point, Google Now takes over and asks “Who is ‘Mom’?” It listens for your response, but also lets you tap “Pick contact” to fire up your contacts list and manually select the person. Once that’s done, your command is executed, the relationship has been made, and the next time you say “Okay Google, call Mom”, your phone will remember who “Mom” is, and will take care of everything else for you.

Go ahead and give it a try. It works for Mom, Dad, Brother, and Sister, and should work for other relationships like Girlfriend and Boyfriend. The only thing we couldn’t figure out is how to undo that relationship once you’ve set it up. If you know how, head down to the comments and share what you’ve learned with the rest of us!

UPDATE: Via Granger744, if you want to remove a relationship, just say “OK Google, Bendito Papendorf is not my brother”. Google Now will ask if you want to remove the relationship. It’s just that easy!

In the meantime, call your Mom. She misses you.


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.