Google launches voice recognition app for mobile phones.
Google added voice recognition technology to the search software it distributes through Apple for its iPhone.
Gummi Hafsteinsson, Google Mobile Applications product manager, offered a demo of the application at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Hafsteinsson simply opened the Google Search application on his phone, held the phone up to his ear, and spoke.
The application combines voice-recognition technology with Google's search index and the iPhone's ability to track a user's location to offer results keyed to his or her whereabouts. "This is a completely open-ended query stream, so you can say anything," Hafsteinsson says. "Anything you might want to type into Google.com, you can say to this applciation."
The move helps plug a gaping hole in the iPhone's capabilities--voice recognition--while pitting Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) against Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ), whose Tellme unit has long sought to bridge the gap between phones and the Web with voice recognition-enabled applications.
"Imitation is the best form of flattery, so welcome to the party," said Dariusz Paczuski, senior director of Tellme consumer services. Tellme's software allows those with BlackBerry's or Samsung's Instinct smart phone to search for information using the company's voice recognition technology. Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks in March 2007.
Expect more to come. Forrester principal analyst Charles Golvin has long argued that voice recognition, while largely ignored by application developers, will become a more common way to connect users with sophisticated data services going forward. "It's the interface that is, after all, the most widely used, the interface that people are most comfortable with," Golvin says. "It makes sense that this would come of age."
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