A mobile voice search engine, custom-built by Google India for the Indian market, has launched for free. Currently only Blackberry users can access the internet-style voice search service. But Google India plans to support other handsets by the end of the year.
How does it work?
The service tries to be as close to an on-line search as possible. Users simply point their mobile browser towards the Google Search page and speak their query. The search can be as simple as one word, like “taxi” or “weather”. Google India has avoided going for some of the more mobile-optimised search engines we’ve seeing this year. It hopes that by letting you speak your search, instead of typing it out by thumb, it can make mobile search as fluid as on-line. Your results are then sent to you via SMS, although Google India plans to increase the number of channels as time goes by.
Interestingly, the actual search results are provided by a mixture of voice-recognition tech and actual human operators. The sheer variety of accents and dialects in India has made this service incredibly hard to roll out. As the service expands, Google India hopes to make it’s voice recognition powerful enough to handle the entire service on its own, but for the time being it requires a human crutch.
This is the first release of many we can expect from Google India. The company claims it is going to be pushing hard for take up of Android, social networks and Google Maps.
What we think?
This is a Beta launch. They haven’t called it that, but that’s what it is. It’s only on Blackberry, so it just reaches 400,000 people at the moment. Also, at the moment it’s really an operator service, supported by technology. If your product isn’t ready for a full commercial launch yet, then that makes it a Beta.