It’s getting dangerous just to walk and text at the same time much less do so behind the wheel of a car. But with Siri being just slightly less helpful than HAL, how are you supposed to surf the web and simultaneously travel safely? All you have to do is ask.
Become a Dictator: With touchscreen displays quickly becoming the norm for mobile devices, you have little choice but to look at what you’re typing since you can’t feel your way across the keyboard. But rather than try to split your attention between driving and typing, have your phone write it for you.
Send yourself a reminder note by tapping the mic icon and prefacing the message with, “Note to self”. Gmail will deliver both the audio message and a transcription of it to your inbox. You can dictate outgoing emails as well, though it requires a few steps.
First tap the mic icon and say “send email”. Next identify the recipient by saying “To [the contact name]”, then state the subject of the email using “Subject: [whatever the email is about]” and finally input the message itself with the “Message” command and speaking the punctuation marks. Altogether it would sound something like this, “Send email to [email protected], subject a hot tip, message have I got a tip for you exclamation point.” And for SMS texts, you only have to say “send text to” followed by the recipient and the message.
Get Directions: Whether you have someone riding shotgun or not, there’s no reason for you to pull double duty as both driver and navigator. Instead, offload direction duties to Google Maps’ navigation feature. Tap the microphone icon on the Google Search bar and say “Navigate to [your destination]” for turn-by-turn dictation, “Directions to [your destination]” for written instructions, or “Map of [your location]” for a basic map of the area. Unfortunately, “Take me to [Funkytown]” is not a valid command.
Get a Forecast: Sudden downpours are murder on a convertible’s interior. Don’t risk getting drenched waiting for the next radio weather report, simply ask your phone “What is the chance of rain today in [your location].” Google Search will read the current weather conditions aloud. You can also query it for a five-day forecast of any locale worldwide.
Refuel: The fuel warning light has been on for way too long now and unless you want to push your ride the rest of the way, you’d better find a service station — fast. Luckily, all you have to do is ask, “Where is the nearest service station?” and Google Search will pop a list of options with directions to each. They may not be the cheapest available (oh but to have that search feature) but any petrol is better than running on fumes.
Now that you’ve found fuel for your ride, it’s time to do the same for yourself. Tap the mic icon and say, “nearby restaurants” for a list of local eateries. You can also specify by cuisine (“nearby diners”) or chain (“where’s the nearest Lord of the Fries?”).
Discover: Can’t quite remember what that catchy tune is that’s playing over the gas station’s PA system? If you don’t have the Sound Search app handy, you can still access the function through the search bar. Tap the mic icon, ask “what’s this song” and hold your phone up to a speaker.
Once it names that tune, Search will pop a purchase link as well. And it’s not just Sound Search, you can also quickly access Goggles functions without opening the app itself by using verbal commands. Tell your phone to, “scan a barcode” to do just that. It works for both linear and QR codes.
While these commands are handy when you’re behind the wheel, they’re by no means a complete list. Check out more helpful verbal cues here.