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April 6, 2007 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Call 1-800-GOOG-411. Google Labs rolls out an experimental, free voice-based 411 service, where you can search by category ("Thai restaurants") or name. Unlike Free 411, there are no ads. Nifty service while we wait for Futurephone to return from the dead.
posted by blahblahblah (20 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome... they used speech recognition and text synthesis to completely eliminate the need for a human. Perhaps you get an agent if these don't work, but they worked great on my first try...
posted by shivohum at 9:33 PM on April 6, 2007


That's one small step for a Google Lab technician, one giant leap for Google pretty much owning my entire life.
posted by generichuman at 9:35 PM on April 6, 2007


It recognizes a wide range of categories, by the way, and the speech is wonderfully smooth.

Best thing, however, is the less-than-a-second processing noise as it recognizes your speech. I am pretty sure it is someone just saying "boop be-doop-beep" or words to that effect.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:39 PM on April 6, 2007


Heh. I called just to hear that.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:43 PM on April 6, 2007


Surprising accuracy in examples - the voice synthesis is sort of choppy compared to similar examples from AT&T labs I've heard, though.

I developed a reverse-lookup service on the old TellMe VXML testbench years ago. Wonder what happened to them.
posted by abulafa at 9:46 PM on April 6, 2007


Oh, that's nice. It seems to work great. I like that you can use voice prompts for the entire call instead of buttons and unlike other speech recog services, this actually works. Put another one on the scoreboard for google.

And I like the "bleep-i-dy bleep-i-dy bleep bleep".
posted by puke & cry at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Google Is God. This stuff is wonderful. Is there anything Google CAN'T do?
posted by davidmsc at 10:20 PM on April 6, 2007


Although I'm not sure how the "enter an intersection" thing works. I've tried it and it gives me the "*blep blep* I'll just skip this part" crap.
posted by puke & cry at 10:28 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]



I developed a reverse-lookup service on the old TellMe VXML testbench years ago. Wonder what happened to them.


They just got bought by Microsoft. My husband works there. I think the text/graphic directory interface they recently started testing was one of the major draws.
posted by padraigin at 11:08 PM on April 6, 2007


Cheers to google!
posted by time to put your air goggles on! at 11:42 PM on April 6, 2007


well, the number works in Canada but no results yet. won't be long, can't wait.
posted by jeffmik at 12:04 AM on April 7, 2007


If all Japanese restaurants used profanity in their names, Free 411 would be a great way for me to find them. Then it might understand what I'm saying to it. The trick is, if you confuse it enough, it puts you through to a live person who has a moderately better chance of helping me out.
posted by ninjew at 12:46 AM on April 7, 2007


So what's "411"? We're not all USians you know.
posted by mr. strange at 4:57 AM on April 7, 2007


"I developed a reverse-lookup service on the old TellMe VXML testbench years ago. Wonder what happened to them.
posted by abulafa at 9:46 PM on April 6"

Microsoft just bought them, in anticipation of Google launching this service. Prior to the acquisition, MS had no voice search technology.
posted by clubfoote at 6:35 AM on April 7, 2007


mr. strange, 411 is a standard service in North America for phone directory lookup. It tends to only work locally within certain boundaries, though.

So a shortcut: if you're looking for a phone number in another (long-distance) area code, dial 1-(area code)-555-1212. Serious. And the lookup for toll-free numbers is 1-800-555-1212.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:38 AM on April 7, 2007


So what's "411"? We're not all USians you know.

The second hit for 411 is "Canada 411," you know.
posted by cribcage at 8:05 AM on April 7, 2007


Re: TellMe -- figures. And saying MS had no voice-search is a bit misleading. SAPI applications are prolific though seldom branded as such, though I agree MS had no MS-branded voice-response phone based search product. The difference between MS and Google here is the usual - MS build frameworks into which vendors have integrated their speech reognition/synthesis engines successfully (if quietly). They stop short of an end-to-end solution (unproven market) while Google builds one functioning end-to-end solution speculating that their brand will develop the market (not a bad bet).

The problem I always had with TellMe (and other voice-op systems since) is that in a loud/noisy situation I want to minimize the things I speak in as voice prompts and do most of my menu interaction entirely with somewhat-more-reliable buttons. (G411 may do this, I'm just saying that all-voice-response isn't as useful as you think unless it's pretty much 100%, which it almost never is.)

This is great calling in a quiet room, but we'll see how it fares next time I'm someplace noisy.
posted by abulafa at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2007


So what's "411"? We're not all USians you know.

It's what used to be '192' in Britain till they messed around with it.
posted by holgate at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2007


This is great calling in a quiet room, but we'll see how it fares next time I'm someplace noisy.

Voice recognition worked for me today on a busy San Francisco street, although it did produce a dead number for the Radio Shack on Market St.
posted by vaportrail at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2007


So what's "411"? We're not all USians you know.

So you want the 411 on 411?
posted by mendel at 7:09 PM on April 7, 2007


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