Nuance’s Dragon now plays music, opens apps and works on older Androids

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Nuance Communications(s nuan) has been trying to recreate its incredibly useful  — but rather one-trick — Dragon Go semantic search app as a full-fledged mobile voice assistant on par with Siri and the new Google Now. It renamed it Dragon Go as Dragon Mobile Assistant in October and expanded its voice command capabilities beyond search into the application stack of the Android phone, where it could compose texts, make calls, set appointments and fetch directions.

On Thursday, Nuance updated Mobile Assistant’s feature set. You can now play music by telling Dragon you want to listen to a particular artist or track in your song library. You can also open third-party apps with a voice command. Another small but highly useful enhancement is the ability to set an alarm with a simple spoken command.

The app is still technically in beta, but it’s downloadable in the Google Play(s goog) store (U.S. only). Mobile Assistant was initially available only on smartphones with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.0 and 4.1), but the new release will now work on older Gingerbread (Android 2.3) phones. No version is available on the iPhone(s aapl) yet, though it has promised an iOS version of the app. The move is a bit odd since Dragon would compete with Apple’s Siri, which is powered in part by Nuance technology.

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