Google Australia Mobile App with Voice Search
Voice recognition for Americans and impersonators.
- Voice search functionality, location-based searching, Google Maps and Google Earth apps integrated
- Poor integration with other Google Apps, voice search functionality isn’t comprehensive
The latest update to Google Mobile App brings with it a party trick that is sure to get everyone excited at first. But after using it for a while, Voice Search is not particularly useful except for wowing friends.
When we reviewed the original Mobile App for the iPhone, we found it to be little more than a supplementary search engine app, providing minimal integration with Google’s bevy of applications. Not too much has changed with the new version. There has been a layout change and a graphical facelift, and the addition of Voice Search makes the new version somewhat worthwhile.
Anyone who used the original Google Mobile App won’t find anything particularly startling about the updated version at first glance. Even the app’s version number — 0.3.142 — doesn’t evoke revolutionary change, though it does fit in with Google’s love for beta software.
The app still retains the location-based searching that made it worth the download in the first place. Google’s other Web-based applications are also available through the Mobile App. However, apart from Google Earth and Maps, which open into their respective applications, clicking on an app simply brings up the relevant Web page in Safari. Tighter integration along the lines of the Google Earth link — with each app installed separately — would definitely bolster the app’s appeal.
The new Google Mobile App’s party trick is Voice Search. Similar technology has been prototyped and tested on the iPhone by Dragon NaturallySpeaking makers Nuance; one of the engineers on Google’s Voice Search was in fact a co-founder of Nuance.
The idea behind Voice Search is quite simple — eradicate the need for typing in Google Mobile App by adding voice recognition, which, presumably, provides the same result with less hassle to the user. Unfortunately, Google seems to have only taken North America into account during development. As a result, it will only accurately recognise English searches in a North American accent. Though the results aren’t as hilarious as they are rumoured to be for British users, Australian users will still be unable to properly use the function without having to put on a cheesy faux American accent.
Even when Voice Search does recognise the user’s voice properly, search results are presented in Google’s traditional mobile layout, rather than the iPhone-optimised layout. As result, searches aren’t separated into location-based and general search queries. This can still be achieved by altering the query manually, but this defeats the whole purpose of Voice Search in the first place.
Ultimately, both the Google Mobile App and its Voice Search functionality are half-baked products that still require testing and modification to reach an acceptable standard.
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