So after much anticipation and false starts the latest version of the Google Mobile App for iPhone was launched today. What is particularly exciting about this application is that it uses voice recognition for search text entry rather than having to use the on-screen keyboard. The concept is simple. You start the app, hold the device to your ear and speak the phrase you want to search on. There is then a short delay while the voice is converted to text and sent to Google’s search servers.
The blogsphere has been alight with a buzz of expectation around the app and particularly as it didn’t arrived as expected on Friday. So I downloaded it this morning and was instantly disappointed. Firstly the voice recognition was switched off and when I went to enable it the reason for this quickly became apparent – it seems the application “only works in English, and works best for North American English accents”. Too right. In my tests the accuracy of the recognition was pretty poor, perhaps I should have been putting on my best American accent like Hugh Laurie?
As you will see from the graphic listing my attempts the application took “Neil Thompson” as “Neal Stephenson” and “AppSwing” as “Aphex twin” not a great hit rate. Given the diversity of people within the US itself I wonder how accurately it works with all the American accents? Anyway, I will wait for the UK English version to arrive.
At the same time I also tried out another speech recognition application for iPhone, Say Who. Like the Google App this takes the spoken word as input but in this case then searches your contacts for a match and can then dial them automatically. This worked better than the Google app but not by much. This time the accuracy was much better almost always finding the right contact but the app was hampered by regular hang-ups and crashes.
So on the evidence of today’s testing voice recognition applications, for the iPhone at least, have a way to go.