Android

How to Control Your Android Device Entirely With Your Voice

Kannon Yamada Updated 22-04-2020

Android voice commands allow you to control your smartphone with your voice. All you need is Google’s official voice control app, called Voice Access.

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Let’s look at how to use Voice Access on Android, as well as a few examples of how to control your phone with your voice.

Install Voice Access on Android

First, you’ll need to install Voice Access on your device. The guided setup process may differ depending on your phone, but it’s not a complicated process.

Voice Access requires a minimum of Android 5.0 and the latest version of the Google app. Also, in order to get the full Voice Access experience, it’s recommended that you enable “OK Google” voice detection and install the Pixel Launcher app.

Download: Voice Access (Free)
Download: Google (Free)
Download: Pixel Launcher (Free)

How to Set Up Voice Access on Android

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After installation, the Voice Access app will guide you through setup. The first prompt asks for the Accessibility permission, while the second asks for Phone permissions. A third prompt asks to enable Always on Google Assistant. All three are required for full Voice Access functionality.

If the automated setup process doesn’t launch, you can enable the Accessibility and Always on Google Assistant permissions manually. Here’s how to enable the Accessibility permission:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Access.
  2. Switch the service on. A brief tutorial runs after switching the service on (walk through the tutorial).
  3. You can pause or activate Voice Access from any screen by pulling down the notification tray and tapping on Voice Access.

Next, here’s how to turn on Always On Google Assistant:

  1. Open the Google app and browse to More > Settings > Voice > Voice Match.
  2. Turn the permission on for Hey Google.
  3. If prompted, go through the guided setup for training Google to recognize your voice.

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How to Use Voice Control on Android

To start Voice Access from anywhere on your Android phone:

  1. Run the Voice Access app by pulling down the notification tray and tapping on Voice Access. Alternatively, if you enabled always-on voice detection, say “OK Google” aloud.
  2. Provide the command you’d like to execute.
  3. If you need a full list of voice commands, say “show commands.”

Voice Access overlays numbers on top of everything you can interact with on the screen. Speaking the number or the name of the on-screen item will launch that feature.

For example, in the screenshot above, saying “two” will activate the Pocket Casts app. Alternatively, you can also say “launch Pocket Casts.” After a brief pause, the app will launch.

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Exploring Voice Access Features

There are four categories of features offered by Voice Access:

  1. Text composition
  2. Menu navigation
  3. Gesture control
  4. Core functions of the phone

Let’s look at how to use these.

Text Composition via Voice Commands

Text composition allows speech-to-text transcription inside any text entry box. For example, you can write an email using just your voice by doing this:

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  1. Activate Voice Access on the Gmail homepage, as shown in the left screenshot.
  2. Say “compose email” or “five”.
  3. Verbally spell out the email address of the recipient.
  4. Write your email, speaking the words you would normally type.

Voice Access recognizes commands, such as “backspace” and “enter.” Also, it includes numerous advanced composition voice commands, such as “delete sentence,” which erases an entire sentence, and “delete word,” which wipes out the word next to the cursor.

There are a lot more commands than the ones shown here. For a complete list, say “show commands.”

Voice-Controlled Menu Navigation

You can also use your voice for menu navigation. The commands allow you to open apps, navigate forward and back, go to the home screen, and a lot more. Some voice navigational commands include:

  • Show notifications
  • Show Quick Settings
  • Show recent apps
  • Open [app name]
  • Back

Voice-Controlled Gestures and Functions

Because Voice Access is an accessibility tool, it can turn voice commands into gestures, such as opening the notification tray. If an app requires a particular gesture to perform an action, you only need to speak the name of the gesture.

The best example is on the unlock screen. Saying “unlock” activates the unlock gesture. You can also say “swipe up.”

Combining composition, navigation, and gestures make Voice Access capable of doing anything you’d do with your fingers.

Core Phone Functions

You can also toggle your phone’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, adjust the volume, or silence the phone. Take a look at Google’s Voice Access commands help page for a longer list.

Magnification and Grid Selection

Like most accessibility apps, Voice Access focuses on delivering larger icons and text to help with visibility. It can also divide the screen into a grid, which allows you to zoom in on sections of the screen and interact with smaller on-screen elements.

For example, saying “open grid” will divide the screen into a grid. Saying “swipe 23 up” after this will open the app drawer, per the right screenshot.

To zoom in on any element of the screen, you can say “zoom in.” This is particularly useful for the visually impaired.

Voice Access Settings

You can access additional features of Voice Access in its Settings menu. Accessing the Settings menu is a little tricky, as you don’t open it from the app drawer like most apps. Instead, you must pull down on the Voice Access entry in the notification tray and then tap on Settings. Alternatively, go to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Access > Settings.

Within the Settings menu, there are additional options. Of these, the most important are:

  • Activation button: Overlays a persistent bubble on the screen. Tapping on it will let you activate voice recognition from any menu.
  • Configure activation key: This lets you assign a physical button, such as a keyboard or Bluetooth switch, as a voice recognition trigger.
  • Time out after no speech: Disabling this lets you run Voice Access continually while the phone’s screen is turned on. By default, when enabled this has a 30-second timeout.
  • Active during calls: Lets you use Voice Access during phone calls.
  • Cancel on touch: Normally, touching the screen disables Voice Access. Enabling this makes it so touching the screen does not disable voice recognition.
  • Show all commands: See everything that Voice Access lets you do.
  • Open tutorial: Runs through the tutorial again, in case you need a refresher on how to use Voice Access.

Shortcomings of Voice Access

While you can use Voice Access to unlock your phone, it only supports a PIN lock. To protect your passcode, the labels display random words, like the names of colors, instead of actually having you speak your passcode out loud.

To use this, go to the Settings page as mentioned above, and make sure you have Activate on lock screen enabled. You can change your security type to a PIN at Settings > Security > Screen lock.

Voice Command dramatically reduces your battery life if left on continuously. This makes sense, since it’s always listening for your next command.

On top of that, it can be a little buggy. Sometimes Google Assistant won’t understand a command. Other times, it won’t respond. But for the most part, the app performs well.

Get Android Voice Commands Now

If you want Android voice commands, Voice Access is the best app available. It can control every aspect of your phone, from accessibility features like grid select mode to navigation and gesture controls. Getting started only requires installing the app and enabling Always on Google Assistant and Accessibility permissions.

If you find Voice Access to be overkill for your needs, check out how to use voice commands with Google Assistant 15 Ways to Voice Control Your Life With Google Assistant Say the right commands to Google Assistant, and it can make your life better in ways you've never imagined. Read More instead.

Related topics: Accessibility, Android Tips, Google Assistant, Google Now, Voice Commands.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Wolfie0827
    April 23, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    What is really needed on these voice control apps is the ability to answer call with voice, all I have tried failed miserably. I have a neighbor who is blind and a family member talked them into getting a smart phone because "you can control it with your voice." NOT! I tried just about every voice control app and personal assistant out there and none could allow you to answer an incoming call with voice. The work around requires him to use a headset so he can answer by pushing an easy to find button on the headset.

  2. John Fahlsing
    July 3, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Yes, it worked, I finally deleted all my social accounts across the WWW, downloaded Messenger for desktop to keep in touch with friends and family only. Now I'm free? So thanks to MUO for always being topnotch knowledge base. Now, wheres that book I've been dying to read?
    Peace!

  3. Thane
    March 22, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Is it possible to access email on an Android tablet via voice command?

  4. Thane
    March 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Is it possible to access other apps on an Android tablet via voice command? Can one open and compose an email through their email app?

  5. Carla Saunders
    March 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I only want to use voice to make and answer calls. Will this app allow me to simply say "answer" when someone calls? Does the phone have to be plugged in or have Wi-Fi connected to work? In other words can I be riding in a car and answer the phone via voice command?

  6. Jen Christopherson
    February 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    My mom can't use a phone with her hands since her stroke. I searched for a way for her to make phone calls hands free. This required a new phone. I got one for her. I searched for voice activated (wake up device) app and found voice access. I downloaded. We went through the set up (including OK Google).
    It refuses to recognize her voice. It won't work without an internet connection. This is NOT hands free so muchs it is internet controlled. We live in the country, just far enough out for satellite to be required.
    We need true voice activated and controlled phone use. Do you know where to find that?

  7. Lj
    December 14, 2016 at 12:21 am

    When i downloaded the xda i searched voice access and it say error fetching it wont do anythint

  8. Shikhar
    August 21, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I tried downloading the voice access app on my HTC Desire 620g dual SIM phone using the XDA Labs app, the download didn't start and showed the following error: "there is a problem in parsing the package".
    Also, I tried downloading the app directly and again when I tried to install it, the same error was shown. What could be the possible reasons? (and their respective fixes)

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      That sounds like a corrupted download or a poor Internet connection. Have you tried downloading it over a desktop and sideloading it to the phone?

  9. LookingForAnswers
    August 16, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    I am looking for a way to provide basic music player controls while I am running (next, back, volume up, volume down...). Usually for Pandora or Doubletwist, but I am flexible regarding the player.

    Would Voice Access enable this?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      That's a tough question. Noise pollution makes modern voice recognition less reliable. You also need to be able to see the screen to be able to use certain features of voice control. In theory it will work. In practice, it might not work very well.

  10. Dan Teshiba
    May 14, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Great article! This info may be a life changer for me. Because of ALS I have lost all functional use of the muscles below my neck. This app will allow me to use a smart phone and access all the technology associated with it. Thank you!

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you for the kind words! The one thing Voice Access is lacking is good integration with screen-off Google Now. If they do properly integrate the two, it will be possible to switch the screen on with just your voice and then fully control it. That would allow users to use a smartphone or tablet without requiring that it be plugged in all the time.

  11. Mike Mulligan
    May 8, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Thanks for the heads up and info on voice. access..I downloaded it from google play..have the icon on my screen ..I go to settings...accesability...I see voice acess..try to turn it on and I get a notification that the app wants to monitor actions,observe text and
    retrieve content..and freezes I click ok or cancel and nothing happens... cant get by this notice..also happens with other "services" and ideas?
    Updated Note 4

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 8, 2016 at 3:32 am

      It seems that something about TouchWiz is interfering with the Voice Access service. I do not believe that this situation is resolvable until Google updates Voice Access to offer better compatibility with Samsung devices. Hopefully they correct this issue soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  12. Anonymous
    May 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    HI SIR, Kannon Yamada

    THIS ARTICLE IS REALLY VERY GOOD

    THANKS TO Yamada

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. Glad that you're enjoying voice control!

  13. Anonymous
    May 4, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    We have tried several times to download it on our Samsung Galaxy S7. It hasn't arrived. Possibly our security software blocks it?

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 4, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      Which program are you having trouble with? XDA Labs is an app from outside of the Play Store, so you have to enable installing from Unknown Sources.

      It should be compatible with Samsung devices. You can also trying downloading the Voice Access APK directly, although I don't recommend that option.

  14. Anonymous
    May 3, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I put this on my girl's Nexus 7 with a broken screen! Gives it some kind of functionality and I don't have to constantly plug in a micro-to-usb adapted mouse

    Now I have to decide what to use it for: network camera, media server/controller, or maybe an always on gps beacon for my car (though it might not do to well in heat)