A couple of months ago, Microsoft released a Bing-powered voice assistant app called Torque, and now the same app—which was previously only for Android Wear devices—can be activated at any time on your Android phone itself. The app works very similarly to Google’s own “OK Google” offering, but with a twist. Literally, you twist your wrist to activate the assistant rather than using your voice. But beyond that activation gesture, the app offers much the same information as OK Google, like weather updates, sports scores, information about nearby restaurants, stock prices, and more.
While the app has been out for a while, the recently released 2.0 update takes the concept from watch to phone, moving Torque to a market that’s just a bit more mainstream than Android Wear. The new version also makes the app smarter, adding a few new quick answer queries like the ability to ask for flight status and information on local events.
The app puts an icon in your app drawer and you can launch the assistant in-app, but you can also from there check a box that allows the app to recognize shakes from anywhere. After playing with it for while, I found the shake recognition to be a little less than great, but hopefully Microsoft will fix that in a reasonable amount of time.
Microsoft Torque Search brings the most powerful voice-enabled web search to either Android Wear or Android Phone. With a flick of the wrist, Torque wakes up your Android Wear watch for you to say what you want to search. You can also shake your phone to do the same thing if you don’t have a physical watch. Torque Search used Microsoft’s state-of-the-art advanced speech and gesture recognition technologies with Bing powered web search, which offers a truly unique experience.
Torque was created in Microsoft’s Garage project, a program that has employees experimenting with creative ideas for cross-platform products and services. The project has seen the birth of a few other Android apps in particular, including Next Lock Screen for Android, which gives users contextual location-based information and quick shortcuts to apps. Journeys & Notes is also a Microsoft Garage project, which lets you leave notes for people who might be on a similar journey as you.
You can get Torque Search on the Play Store for free.