Google Adds New Voice-Activated Services for Android

Google Inc., owner of the world’s most popular search engine, introduced new voice-activated services to drive more users to phones that run on its Android operating system as it challenges Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Google, which had offered three voice-enabled services including search, added more than 10 new ones that let users give spoken commands for tasks such as finding map directions, sending texts and e-mail, and locating songs, Hugo Barra, Google’s product management director, said at a news conference today in San Francisco.

“I see voice actions as an app that allows me to do more,” said Barra. One-fourth of U.S. searches on the newest Androids are driven by voice, he said.

The new voice services are available on the latest Android models, Google said. The company is updating Android as it expands in mobile communications. Worldwide, Android became the third-best-selling operating system in the second quarter, with 17.2 percent of sales compared with 1.8 percent a year earlier, Gartner Inc. said in a note today. Apple’s iOS dropped to fourth place. Nokia Oyj’s Symbian and Research In Motion Ltd. ranked first and second, Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, gained 27 cents to $492.01 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have dropped 21 percent this year.