ZTE to bring 'Car Mode' app for hands-free smartphone use

ZTE is partnering with voice recognition provider Nuance to bring the app to its Android devices

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Chinese handset maker ZTE plans to pre-load a new "Car Mode" app in its Android devices, allowing users to issue voice commands to make phone calls, play music and get text messages read out while driving their car.

ZTE announced the app on Monday as part of the company's new partnership with U.S. speech recognition company Nuance Communications, a maker of voice dictation and virtual assistant software such as Dragon Dictate and Dragon Assistant.

The Car Mode app will be pre-loaded on ZTE Android devices this year, and is meant to give users hands-free access to their smartphones. Users can shift into the Car Mode with a "wake-up word" and launch navigation apps and access weather information with voice commands. The Car Mode will also announce incoming callers, and features a "do not disturb mode" so that users can block all calls and text messages while driving their car.

The partnership with Nuance will also eventually bring other voice recognition apps to ZTE Android devices, which come in more than 25 languages, the companies said in a statement.

ZTE is unveiling the Car Mode app at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. The Chinese company in the third quarter overtook HTC to become the world's fourth largest smartphone vendor. Although known for budget handsets, ZTE is aiming to release devices for the higher-end market. AT CES, the company plans to unveil a new premium smartphone.

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