Google have recently released the voice search application for the iPhone as a free download from the app store (for you non-iPhone users, this is a place where you go to get the latest applications and games… lots of them free, including this one). The promotional video is quite exciting to watch, and the results are simply stunning. Imagine – you speak a search term into the Google search engine and it responds in seconds flat to give you a location aware set of results. Search for films and you get cinema listings for your location. Search for conversions from farenheit to centigrade, and once again the power of Google leaps into action to deliver almost instantaneous results.
So how does it work in practice for those of us not blessed with a North American accent? In a word, poorly!
Ok, to be fair, I am keeping my voice down and probably not speaking too clearly, but even so I searched for ‘Hal MacLean’ three times, and only one returned anything close to what I said. Mostly I get things like ‘how to clean’, ‘How McCain’, ‘Al Mclean’ (the closest), ‘Harold Mclain’ (arguably closer still), ‘How Much Rain’ and goodness knows how many other variations. What I didn’t get, not even once, was the correct results returned. I even tried in an American accent, and Australian, too. Neither seemed to work.
So I tried other people, including Matthew Eaves to get equally odd results (mac tv, macky’s dc, etc).
Not that I am disappointed in any of this.
In fact I rather enjoy using it for the fun it gives, but more importantly for all of the other apps it comes bundled with, including Mail, Calendar, Docs (you can only read, not write them or edit those you have started), RSS Reader, News, Notebook, Photos, Translate, Maps (why??), You Tube (again… why?) and Earth (I say yet again… why…?)
Apart from the fact that the last apps already exist on the phone, and some hae limited functionality, this is a fun collection to have access too.
The only thing I’d say is that you either need to have a north american friend on hand to speak the search terms (I’ve yet to find anyone willing to test this), or you have to accept that you’ll get some wild results and chuckle at what turns up. Just don’t rely on it finding what you want without reverting to typing out the query! I expect in time that this will get more and more refined, and I for one would find it really useful if it worked! C’mon Google… you can do it!