Hidden Google Gem: Google Mobile App

We recently recorded a video of one of my favorite “hidden gems” at Google: the Google Mobile App, which does voice recognition to make searches easier on a mobile phone. It’s available for the iPhone, Android phones, BlackBerry, Nokia S60, and Windows Mobile. In the video below, I ran the Google Mobile App through its paces on an iPhone:

We basically decided to say queries until something went badly wrong, and I almost ran out of queries. I did:
[behavioral economist]
[ed felten dmca]
[fox theater redwood city california]
[time in beijing]
[39 centimeters in inches]
[answer to life the universe and everything]
[safebrowsing api safari firefox]
[custom made pinata] < – this got recognized as [old custom made pinata], but the search results were still fine
[google quality guidelines]
[sheraton hotel boston massachusetts]

I can’t promise that the voice recognition work as well for you, but I have noticed that the voice recognition has improved considerably since the mobile app first launched. If the recognition doesn’t quite understand your accent, I hope it will in the future. Give it a try though, because you might like it.

44 Responses to Hidden Google Gem: Google Mobile App (Leave a comment)

  1. I think there is an unclosed link at the end of your post that makes it link every time you try to click inside the comment box!

    My husband tried the Google voice recognition thingie on his phone with my name Iris Fritschi, which Google thought was ‘virus itchy’. Hilarity ensued.

  2. lzell

    Cool stuff. Any plans to open source the voice recognition? :)

  3. Thats both incredible and very surprising. VR has come a long way and I can’t believe it nailed all those terms.

    RM

  4. I just installed it on my BlackBerry Bold device and gave it a shot. Since my native language is not English, I chose Indian English as the language in the settings.

    I can tell you that the experience was fantastic. It was able to correctly understand words like “BlackBerry”, “Faisal Khan” (although there were a few glitches in the beginning as it displayed ‘Feroz Khan’ instead), “Star Developer”, and “Slashdot”.

    At times it used to time out saying that it could not connect. Since my connection is EDGE, perhaps the data transfer rate is an issue here as well.

    Although it had some problems with other keywords, overall the experience was pretty good.

  5. Damian

    Hi Matt
    I´ve got a Nokia S60 .. and this feature doesn´t work on mine … another reason to go iPhone I think …

  6. a laugh for the monkey sound i get with each voice query. and i ♥ the location awareness which is one of the many reasons this app will live on my home screen!

  7. it doesn’t work very well for me with my oklahoma accent. :( but my lovely G1 has a full keyboard, so i never really have a use for voice-googling anyway. it’s not like i need to google while i drive. of course it might be a problem if i ever fell victim to some sort of horrible thumb accident…

  8. Emily

    Google should have made a special graphic for their home page in rememberance of those killed 9-11

  9. Damian

    On something else Matt – has the search box default font got bigger today or am I just going mad?

  10. Kathy

    Matt, Might there be anyway to train it? It seems to pick up keyword: “hysterectomy” without a hitch. But speak “HysterSisters” and it doesn’t get it – rather “sister sisters”.

    If I say High-ster Sisters (a common mispronunciation for those who don’t know HysterSisters is a play on words for hysterectomy) it returns correctly.

    It seems it would be a good thing for those with odd pronounced names (the most common keyword searched for on my site IS our domain name ;) ) could train the voice recognition. Or be able to provide the phoenically spelled version in our google webmaster tools.

  11. That’s really rather neat. Thanks for sharing.

    Nice to see Google knows the answer to the life, the universe and everything. However, it still doesn’t appear to have worked out the answer to “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” ;)

  12. answer to life the universe and everything=42

  13. It surely will increase the mobile phone selling which use this application. :D

  14. Hi Matt,

    Great app but need to have a perfect english accent.

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  16. I use this feature all the time. Never have had a problem with it. I acturaly does better then Nautically Speaking.

  17. Has great potential and I would love it but having trouble getting it to work on bb 8600.

  18. Tim Colling

    Well, I just wasted a bit of my time, thanks to this misleading statement in the blog post above: “… the Google Mobile App, which does voice recognition to make searches easier on a mobile phone. It’s available for … Windows Mobile.”

    Wrong. Voice recognition does NOT work on Windows Mobile. Now I’ll just uninstall this app.

  19. This has improved a lot since I last tried it (when it first came out). At first it couldn’t understand my New Zealand accent at all and was pretty much unusable. Now it get nearly everything first time (unlike most Americans). “Google: Smarter than your average American.”

  20. I hope this will work on my Nokia E71

  21. I’ve never seen this app before, thanks for the heads up Matt.

  22. Judy Diamond

    Hi Matt, I agree – It now works great with my British accent on my iPhone here in the UK. But this was not the case when the app first launched. I wonder how many others in the UK gave up on it and haven’t gone back and tried the much improved upgrade. One tip for users is make sure you have as little as possible background noise – in the car this means turning down the radio and or keeping the window shut to avoid road noise. Under those conditions the recognition percentage is very high – close to 100%

  23. Nice little toy. I don’t have a smart phone (yet), so I can’t use it.

    In my very limited understanding of voice recognition, background noise was still a big problem. Your test environment was quiet, with negligible background noise. How well does the system work while standing on a busy street corner in Chicago or New York? Or while riding in a car (as a passenger!) with the radio and wind noise?

    Fun stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Big Daddy

    This is really cool. I finally got rid of the blackberry and got an iPhone. I have been really enjoying it. This will definitely improve the experience :-)

  25. Thats a great app but what I would love to see is an app for the iphone that records my business phone calls, of course with permission from the person on the other end!

  26. Still am not able to get the app via Market on Android. Fail? Germany-restrictions? (Even more fail)
    Sad…

  27. I spotted this on my Crackberry when it first got rolled out a couple of months back. I must admit, with an English accent, it gets a lot of things HORRIBLY wrong!

  28. I tried it for a while – it was successful… but only when I used an American accent! In fairness Goog had warned me that this would be the case.
    Native iPhone voice recognition works better when using proper English :)
    It’s going to be interesting to see who cracks voice recognition first – MSFT, GOOG or AAPL must all be contenders… whoever wins will have happy shareholders…

  29. I use a Blackberry. This look really useful so I’m going to plod through getting it set up.

  30. looks like a good feature for Iphone…

  31. Thanks for sharing! I wish I had one of these phones so I could try it out. I’ve been told that I drag out some of my words (I’m from Nova Scotia) – I wonder if that would have a negative effect? It will be interesting to find out! :)

  32. I’ve just ordered my iPhone after being a loyal blackberry fan so will look forward to checking this out :)

  33. It didn’t worked on my HTC-SPV:(

  34. Great app, I am always amazed with our technological advancement.

  35. Ahmet

    I live in Turkey, when i go http://www.google.com/mobile/products/search.html to download the app., i could not find Turkey in the “send me the link” list. Please help.

  36. I have the G1 Android and I have shown the voice recognition search to my friends to impress them. A few iPhone users had their shorts in a bunch. The voice dial isn’t quite as good as I would like, but the voice search gets what I say about 90% of the time.

    The funny thing is, those same iPhone users seem really impressed with the G2 demo videos, until I showed them that the G1 can do just about all of the same stuff featured in the videos.

    Matt, do lots of Googlers actually use the G phones?

  37. thats for me not usefull. anyway .. i got it. Thanks for informing us

  38. Amrit Sareen

    Google’s voice recognition (VR) absolutely fascinates me. Because I have an “old school” phone, I use GOOG-411 all the time and VR works perfectly on it. Even with my stutter and a slight Indian accent…..

    If only Windows VR worked as well, I would probably scarce use a mouse….

  39. “* currently available only on Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone.” so not on S60. :(

  40. I’ve mentioned this in quite a lot of other places as well that “Google’s voice recognition is absolutely ground breaking”. I’ve a very unusual accent but the Google app recognizes my every word more than 98% of the times. The 1st time I used the app I was lost in day dreaming about the near future possibility of computers without any keyboards. That would speed up my work hundred fold because no matter how fast you can type you will always be able to speak even faster.

  41. I’ve the google app in my iphone and it’s voice recognition is fantastic, although my accent is very unusual & a mixture of british & asian english. The first time I used it I was amazed and was thinking of the near future possibility of voice recognition technology replacing our good old keyboards. It will surely speedup input as everyone no matter how fast they type can speak faster.

  42. Works fabulously via my dell streak with a brit accent. But if a word is off it’s radar it flunks spectacularly. great tool though.

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