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Google Apps on the HTC Desire Z

Together with pre-installed and Android Market Google apps, this is how my HTC Desire Z can tell me just about anything…

All the Google good stuff together in the list of HTC Desire Z Apps

Running on Android, and Android being a Google developed operating system, HTC Desire Z comes with a few Google apps pre-installed as either part of Android or as part of HTC’s Sense UI.

For any of these apps to be useful (and for some to start-up at all) you need to be connected to the Internet, because it refers back to Google for everything.

There are some privacy settings you’ll have to wade through when you install or run them for the first time, but just make sure your Google Account’s privacy settings are set how you like it, then whatever you say on your phone will be overridden by those.

Anyway, on to the good stuff…

Google Voice Search

Have you seen that advert of the guy running down the street with dogs chasing him, then on his phone he types into Google asking what to do in this situation? Right. Can you even hit the right keys while running?

He obviously wasn’t using an HTC Desire Z, because now imagine the same scenario, but instead of trying to land your finger on the right key, you just speak to your phone instead.

That’s exactly what Google Voice Search on the HTC Desire Z allows you to do.

Launch the app, press the microphone button and ask whatever you like. Google converts your voice to text and voila! submit to Google for the instant answers.

In my tests the speech-to-text engine heard me right every time, even in a slightly noisy environment.

This is a time and life saving app, especially in a situation where you can’t type, but something more realistic than running away from dogs, like when driving perhaps?

On the main screen you can type in your query. But why type? Press the microphone button (top right) and speak instead

After pushing the microphone button, this screen appears. Speak your mind about what you want to search for

Your voice gets uploaded to Google and analysed for words

Your voice is turned to text, the text is submitted to the search engine and voila! your results are returned!

Google Goggles

Google Goggles doesn’t come pre-installed with HTC Desire Z, but is a quick download from the Android Market.

It’s another alternative input search product, not unlike Voice Search, but instead of voice Google Goggles uses images.

Images!? Yes – ever looked at something and wonder what that is? A barcode, a logo, even a painting?

With Google Goggles your HTC Desire Z becomes a visual search engine. Launch the app, point at the logo/barcode/painting you want to identify and click.

The image will be scanned for data points (shapes that will help identify what it is) and then submitted to the Goggles search engine, which will return relevant results about the image.

After the picture is taken, the image is analysed to identify data points - this data is then uploaded to Google Goggles

In a simple test it managed to bring back the correct info on not just the Quaker Oats logo, but also the Quaker Oats barcode.

The more people use Google Goggles the more clever it will get, because it pools the information people submit and can figure out how accurate the results are for future reference. It is however part of Google Labs, which means its a work in progress.

More information about the product is then returned. You can click on a result to submit to Google for even more info

Google Translate

How many languages do you understand? Me, I understand 59 languages.

Or at least, with Google Translate I understand 59 languages. That’s how many languages you can currently translate with Google Translate.

The usefulness of this application is increasing as the technology increase and it gets easier to communicate with people who do not share your language.

On the HTC Desire Z Google Translate goes a step further.

By utilising the same technology that Google Voice uses, you can speak to your phone in English, it will capture your speech and translate it to whichever language you want.

It translates it from voice to text though, but there are additional pieces of software that you can install which can speak those words for you too.

At the moment the input languages for Google Translate are only English and Spanish, but it will translate it to any of the other 57 languages. I can confirm that the English -> Afrikaans is reasonably accurate. Google Translate hears me correctly; and although the translation is not 100% accurate (in Afrikaans), an Afrikaans speaker will be able to get the gist of the question.

To translate from any of the other languages you will still have to type in the words.

The Google Translate main screen allows you to type or to speak your text

The now familiar "Speak Now" screen pops up after you press the microphone icon

It converts your speech to text, and then submits the text to Google Translate

It presents the translation in text, but with additional software you can have that text read back to you

From the settings you can send the translation to somebody, or even translate a text message you received

And that’s it for the Google Apps roundup on the HTC Desire Z.

Now you can go around and be a certified know-it-all in 59 languages.

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