Google today released an application that lets people speak commands into Android-based smartphones to do tasks such as send emails and text messages, make calls and even get driving directions.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said its program, called “Voice Actions,” features 10 new voice commands that can be used to operate a phone without using a keypad.

Users can dictate their emails and text messages, make calls by simply speaking the name of a contact or business, find and play requested songs, search for websites and even map directions.

“Voice Actions are a series of spoken commands that let you control your phone using your voice,” said Hugo Barra, Google’s product manager. “Even though our phones do all these new things, the most natural way of interacting with a phone remains what it always has been: speaking.”

Google said Voice Actions is only available for devices that run its latest Android 2.2 operating system, dubbed “Froyo,” and can be download from its Android Market. The features will come pre-installed on the new Motorola Droid 2 for Verizon and are expected to be added to the HTC Evo and Incredible when they get upgraded.

Earlier this month, smartphones using Android edged past iPhones, according to research firms NPD and Nielsen.

The Internet search giant hopes Voice Actions will add momentum to its sales. In recent months, the company has added Android-only bells and whistles to its applications war chest — such as Goggles, which translates text in photos, and Sky Map, which draws out constellations in the night sky.

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