Google Inc. has added voice search capabilities toits MobileApp for iPhone, which is designed to let users speak into amicrophone and get location-based search results.

This will be a cool feature for sure – provided the voice recognition software correctly interprets your spoken words.

Normally,voice recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBMViaVoice requires an “enrolment,” whereby users say certain words andmanually make corrections when the software makes errors. Thisenrolment feature is for PC voice recognition packages aimed atlawyers, radiologists and other professionals who dictate their notes.

Althoughinteractive voice response systems have no enrolment period, mostreaders have probably encountered at least a few occasions where anautomated attendant has responded with something like, “I’m sorry, Idon’t understand.”

At PC Expo ten years ago, during a demonstration of the legal version of Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 (withwhich it bundled Naturally Speaking), the software interpreted “Welcometo the demonstration” as “Well into the demonstration.” This was duringa demo designed by Corel to show how accurate the software is.

Thoughten years is a long time in the tech sector, that doesn’t change thefact that it’s tough to program a device to recognize theidiosyncracies of everyone’s voice. Imagine if you have a cold, you’reon a noisy street and you’re looking for the nearest barber shop. Soyou dictate the command “hair care” into your iPhone microphone.Hopefully, it won’t send you to a travel agency advertising a specialon air fare.

Google says Mobile Apps has the Search with MyLocation feature, which is designed to return results based on yourcurrent location.

We trust the voice recognition applicationwill work most of the time. But with the price of wireless dataservices these days, if you’re shopping in a typical North Americancity, you might be able to save a few bucks by consulting the nearestcopy of the Yellow Pages.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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