Voice recognition technology is critically important, not just for mobile phones, but potentially for control of lots of other devices, particularly televisions. It is still early days, but if you’re thinking about which side will win in the battle between Apple’s Siri and Google Voice Search, consider the lesson of spell check.
When Eric Schmidt was still chief executive of Google, I asked him what the company owned that would make it particularly hard for any emerging search contender to wipe Google out. Spell check, he said. Google had observed the spelling mistakes and corrections typed into billions of queries, and had a vast understanding of what people really meant when they typed like thsi. Google was able to use this knowledge to offer a “did you mean” function in search, eventually completing queries before people were finished typing.
Other companies would not be able to get that learning, he said, since people had come to expect search engines to fix their spelling. The customers would stay with Google, where that problem was solved. Microsoft Bing has proved Mr. Schmidt was not entirely correct in Google owning spell check, but it does take a company of Microsoft’s size to come at the problem.
It is common around the world to use Google to check one’s spelling now, and it’s common inside Google to use that same ancillary learning on new products.
That is probably why Google Voice Search, in its Siri-like manifestation in the new Jelly Bean version of the Android operating system, appears to be winning the heart of my colleague Nick Bilton. Nick says Google Voice Search appears to have better understanding of what he’s talking about, and can answer questions better. There are also numerous videos on the Web showing its prowess.
If Google is better, it is most likely because it has roots in a product Google introduced in 2007, called Google-411, or Google Local Voice Search. Ostensibly a product that provided free directory assistance, Google was mostly interested in capturing the way different people pronounced words.
via New York Times – Quentin Hardy
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