ZTE Smart Voice: Star 2 gets wider release, voice control software update coming soon

ZTE Star 2 hands on 1
ZTE’s Smart Voice voice control features on the Star 2 smartphone really impressed us when we tried out the phone earlier this year, but we were frustrated the feature wasn’t available on a phone we could actually buy. The good news is this will all change, because ZTE has announced it will add the feature to all its devices in the future.

Updated on 05-06-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in comments from ZTE regarding the Star 2’s launch outside China, and the availability of Smart Voice on other devices.

Adam Zeng, ZTE’s CTO of mobile devices, called voice control a “core focus” for the company, and said it will continue to develop the technology on the Star series of phones, but “will no longer limit it” to this series alone. When we tried Smart Voice on the Star 2, it was only confirmed for release in China,  although the system responded perfectly to English — using both British and American accents.

After contacting ZTE about the new Smart Voice developments, we’ve been told the Star 2 is currently being prepared for launch outside China, with plans being finalized for Southeast Asia and Europe. The Star 2 is the only current ZTE phone set up for Smart Voice, which uses a combination of hardware — such as the Audience eS704 voice processor — and software to operate. ZTE’s future smartphones will all feature either the full Smart Voice experience, or a slimmed down version with only the key commands.

Software update will add basic Smart Voice features to older ZTE phones

ZTE hasn’t forgotten about its existing devices. While Smart Voice requires certain hardware components, the company is working on a software-only update which will add some of Smart Voice’s features to certain older phones. Additionally, it intends to use Smart Voice in wearables, smart home hardware, and in cars.

What makes ZTE’s voice control system so great? First, it actually works, and works consistently. It was its continued ability to instantly respond, accurately, to our requests that made it standout. The system doesn’t need a data connection to work, and can be used to perform various functions on the phone, from opening apps to taking photos. It’s even possible to swap between the front and rear camera using a voice command.

The voice control system isn’t the only new ZTE feature we’ve been impressed with recently. We tried out the retina security system on ZTE’s Grand S3 phone at Mobile World Congress, and found it to be an accurate, speedy way of unlocking a smartphone.

There’s no release date for the Star 2 yet, but at least we know it’s coming. Similarly, the software update doesn’t have a release schedule yet. We’ll keep you updated here.

Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.

Popular Android navigation apps are just Google Maps with ads, researcher says

A malware researcher found that 19 free Android navigation apps on the Google Play Store were nothing more than Google Maps, but with ads. One of the apps asked for a payment to remove the ads, while some of them presented security risks.

Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.

If you want Samsung's advanced folding phone, be prepared to pay a lot for it

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Do these case images confirm a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the S10 E?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.