Google is letting Android app developers create custom voice actions for their apps, letting users new ways to launch and use those apps with a voice command.

So how does it work? If you’ve got the NPR One app installed on your phone, just say “OK Google, listen to NPR” and the app will launch and immediately play the latest news.

ok google listen to npr

Note that this only works with certain voice actions that have been programmed. For instance, while “listen to NPR” fires up the NPR One app and begins playing news stories, “what’s the latest news from NPR” brings up a Google Now news card showing headlines from the NPR website. It does not launch the NPR One app.

Right now Google is working with a relatively small group of partners including NPR, TuneIn, TripAdvisor, Flixter, Shazam, Walmart, Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com. But eventually Google plans to open up the feature to more developers.

Here are a few voice actions you can already try if you’ve got the appropriate apps on your phone. Just start each request with “OK Google” or by hitting the mic icon:

  • “Scan my receipt on Walmart” or “Show me the value of the day on Walmart.”
  • “Give Me Show times for <movie> on Flixter.”
  • “Show me homes for rent in <city> with <criteria (like 3 bedrooms)> on Trulia.”
  • “Show apartments nearby on Zillow.”
  • “Show me recently sold homes in <city> on Realtor.”
  • “Show me my order on Instacart.”
  • “Shazam this song.”
  • “Start my Lincoln MKZ” and tap to start the engine of your car with the MyLincoln Mobile app.
  • “Show me restaurants nearby on TripAdvisor.”
  • “Play Rodrigo y Gabriela <or other artist>on TuneIn.”

Interestingly, that last one works with TuneIn, but not TuneIn Pro — I already had the latter installed on my phone, and it didn’t work. But I installed the free version of TuneIn and it works as expected.

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3 replies on “OK Google, Listen to NPR: Google launches custom voice actions for Android apps”

  1. Serious question: Does anybody actually use voice commands on a regular basis? It is kind of cool to play with and people who have physical challenges may find them useful, but does anyone use voice commands out in public? I have never seen anyone talk to their phone unless they were talking to someone on a call.

    1. Yeah I do. Most efficient form of using my droid turbo, since the screen doesn’t need to be on nor the device plugged in to do so. Also did it a lot with Siri when I owned iPhones.

    2. I use them a lot too. I’ve never been good with virtual keyboards, and Google’s voice input is exceptionally accurate. I also use them a lot when driving. It’s nice to be able to keep both hands on the wheel, my eyes on the road, and still be able to send texts.

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