Voice control may sound fascinating to you. The ability to speak instructions to a mobile phone is so James Bond that anyone should be excited

Using voice control on your mobile in Nigeria

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Voice commands

Voice control may sound fascinating to you. The ability to speak instructions to a mobile phone is so James Bond that anyone should be excited about it. If you live in a country like Nigeria, you may want to rethink the practicality of this feature though. Why?, You may ask me. The answer stares you in the face: look around you: we are a noisy country. Insert “very” before the “country”.

I try saying “Okay Google Now,” but there is a sputtering, wheezing Tiger generator at the back of the house that muffles everything I say. The Tiger is ours. It is a very small one. Under the noise of the puny thing, it is pretty tough getting voice commands recognised. The neighbours have a much larger one that drones everything. Consider that we have become ingenious at using the big gen’s noise to cover up Mrs. Mo’s ecstatic utterances when the spirit gets to moving, and you might as well forget about using voice control when Biggie is on. Then there are other generators from other neighbours….

If you own an air-conditioned car, you are not the average Nigerian. Have you ever tried using voice commands in Lagos traffic with your car windows down? Or even on a freeway with your car windows down? Now, try using voice commands in a danfo or BRT bus during rush hour. Or at Jankara market or any other market for that matter. Or during a football match. You have got to be kidding me. You know how it is taking a call is in such conditions.

Truth is, if you are unable to use voice commands in the above scenarios, it is pretty much useless for the most part. It remains a gimmick that you will soon forget about and go about using your mobile phone the regular way. It is a different story if like me you live on a quiet secluded island in the Caribbean…


  1. Yes o.

    I first learnt about voice commands on phones in 1999. It was futuristic ally awesome to want to dial your wife, and just about, ‘Eh, babe! ‘, or shout ‘Police’, and have the phone dial 911.

    But like most gimmicks, the novelty quickly wears off (Samsung Galaxy Bla Bla, anyone? )

    Two other reasons using the voice call may be impracticable, or may not be advisabls are:

    1) the issue of batter consumption

    No matter how miniscule, there is increased battery consumption when using voice commands.

    2) the risk of being mistaken for a lunatic

    Depending on where you are, barking intermittent commands into a phone may get you tied up and got hauled off to (Yaba Left) Psychiatric Hospital. OK, am exaggerating, but you could still get strange stares

    Reminds me of the first time I saw somebody walking up and down, harshly (aooarentlt) soliloquizing, many years ago. He was using a wireless earpiece and having a heated conversation on the phone. I didn’t realize it then, and honestly thought he had some screws loose, or entirely missing.

    Gimmicks are good, if they are practical in your environment, but if you have to pay exrra for unusable tech, it’s unfortunate.

    Like paying significantly higher for an AWD vehicle when you never ever go off road. .

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