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Google Unveils New Search Features, Including iOS Voice Search 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-ways-to-find-stuff dept.
First time accepted submitter sohmc writes "Some time ago, Google admitted that the biggest threat was not other search engines but services like Siri. However, Google just bridged that gap with Google Voice Search, already available in Jelly Bean, but also available via downloadable app. Google also submitted this app to the iOS App Store and is currently waiting approval. However, Slashdotters are no doubt recalling to mind the 'Google Voice' fiasco, in which Apple refused to allow it to appear, saying that it replaces a native function. It wasn't until Apple was brought before Congress to answer questions on how it approves or rejects apps that Google Voice was brought in."
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Google Unveils New Search Features, Including iOS Voice Search

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  • by immaterial (1520413) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @07:33PM (#40924659)
    What is this made-up crap about Congress in the summary? Do the editors bother reviewing submissions? (Of course not, this is Slashdot!)
  • Nothing new here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @07:34PM (#40924673)

    Voice search has been on Android for about three years now.
    Just because IOS users are finally getting it does not make it news.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Voice search has been on Android for about three years now.
      Just because IOS users are finally getting it does not make it news.

      Finally getting it? I've had an iPhone 4 since release, and I'm pretty damn sure the Google App has both Voice and Picture search.

      How is this different?

      • Correct, voice search has been there for a while. According to the video in the article, this is more like a direct port of the new google voice search (as it debuted in Jellybean), with enhanced results on voice queries, like movie showtimes, wikipedia entries, etc.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by EGSonikku (519478)

        Helll, the 3GS had voice controls and access to voice search apps. I guess "finally getting it" means "has had it as long as the other players".

    • Voice search has been on Android for about three years now.
      Just because IOS users are finally getting it does not make it news.

      Voice search without a working a internet connection is really the main Voice Search functionality that Android has introduced in the Jellybeans .1 release. I think many iPhone users, including the guy that submitted this story, missed that part during the Google I/O demo.

      And no, iOS Siri can not work offline, at least as far as I know.

      • by EGSonikku (519478)

        Question: what the heck are you going to be "searching" for when offline?

        • by Rui Lopes (599077)

          Question: what the heck are you going to be "searching" for when offline?

          Try imagine what it might be to interact with technology if you're tetraplegic... Voice search will help you a lot.

        • Question: what the heck are you going to be "searching" for when offline?

          Apps, Contacts, phone numbers, addresses, geolocations (yes, even geolocations on a map through offline google maps, or some other offline map third party application).

          Word definitions, word translations, documents, employee directory, list of free wifi hotspots, static bus schedules, etc. (yes, basically any content from third party developers that want to set the flag includeInGlobalSearch to "true")

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        This is a major privacy enhancement. No need to send every word you say some remote server where it gets decoded and saved in some log file.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Voice search has been on Android for about three years now. Just because IOS users are finally getting it does not make it news.

      Wrong on so many counts, it isn't even close.

      The "voice search" that is talked about in the article is new in Jellybean, so only a few weeks old.

      Searching by voice as part of "Voice Actions for Android" has been available since Froyo, a little over 2 years.

      The same searching by voice has been in the Google Search [apple.com] App for iOS for an unknown time, but at least since before the last update in June 2012.

      The fact that iOS had "Voice Control" for a year before Android had Voice Actions is just the icing on yo

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      As an owner of an i4(not s) I can say I became excited of this news.
  • not equivalent (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Moblaster (521614)

    Google voice search is just an alternative entry method for the standard search. It is hardly a strategic counter to the more AI-driven approach (ok, quasi-AI) that Siri represents. And it does little to address either the vertical search gap presented by Yelp, or the "diagonal" functionality gap that Siri addresses by smoothly integrating with your other iOS apps like text message, alarm or calendar.

    • Re:not equivalent (Score:5, Informative)

      by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @07:52PM (#40924909)

      Not true. It's done much more than simple text entry for a long time, and it got a major upgrade in Jelly Bean. Reviews are now generally calling it superior to Siri.

    • Re:not equivalent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @08:37PM (#40925401)

      Google voice search is just an alternative entry method for the standard search. It is hardly a strategic counter to the more AI-driven approach (ok, quasi-AI) that Siri represents.

      Are you kidding me? It's not even a contest. Comparing Google Voice Search to Siri is just like comparing Google Search to Yahoo Search (the Yahoo Search of 10 years ago). Even Steve Wozniak says that Google voice search is [mashable.com] vastly superior [businessinsider.com] to Siri (even long before Gingerbread came out, he was saying stuff like that, now Google voice search can be used offline in addition to what it can already do online, and in that time, Siri has only been getting worse with even more commercial answers to non-commercially based queries).

      Also, the idea of launching specific intents/actions on a phone instead of launching just a web page is an idea that Google pioneered long ago, that Apple just recently imitated.

      And it does little to address either the vertical search gap presented by Yelp, or the "diagonal" functionality gap that Siri addresses by smoothly integrating with your other iOS apps like text message, alarm or calendar.

      But Google Voice Search does also search through the internal content/actions of your phone at the same time as the Internet. It did that for a while now (that's why I can't comprehend how Apple even got a patent on a similar idea).

      • Even Steve Wozniak says that Google voice search is [mashable.com] vastly superior [businessinsider.com] to Siri

        Gosh, wouldn't it be nice if your sources actually supported your claim? Did Voice Search tell you they did?

        1.Article: "The Apple co-founder,[said] that he was an early fan of Siri, but the app has gotten worse since Apple bought it." And why? Because it now also searches Google. No mention of Google Voice Search. The second article is basically just the video from the first.

        • And why? Because it now also searches Google. No mention of Google Voice Search.

          Now, who's making stuff up? Siri doesn't use Google results according to this SEO [inc.com].

          The second article is basically just the video from the first.

          My bad. I lost the original article I wanted to link to. That article contained about a dozen questions where Woz compared the iPhone Siri against Google Voice Search.

          Here is a completely different article with the same kind of test. This one is not performed by Woz but Gizmodo, but it's actually much more comprehensive with 1600 questions! [gizmodo.com] Enjoy.

          1600-Question Test Shows How Bad Siri Really Is
          Jesus Diaz

          Pitting Google search against Siri using a monster 1600-question test shows how useful Siri really is: not at all. Google answered correctly 86 percent of the time. Siri achieved just 68 percent accuracy. At that point, it's not much better than a crystal ball.

          We knew that Siri isn't very good. But this intense test shows just how ridiculous the gimmicky voice assistant could be.
          The fact is that even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been saying this since the day Apple introduced the iPhone 4S with Siri. It just sucks. Siri as an independent product, before Apple acquired it, the Woz told us at the Gizmodo Gallery:

          It was really accurate, but now it's full of marketing-driven answers that are not correct.

          How bad is it now? Here are some good examples from the test, which was conducted by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, a character who is well-known for his pro-Apple view of the tech world:

          When did the movie Cinderella come out? Responded with a movie theater search on Yelp.

          What spices are in Lasagna? Responded with a Yelp search with lasagna on the menu.

          I want to go to Lake Superior? Responded with directions to the company Lake Superior X-Ray.

          Clearly, Woz is right: Apple's version of Siri is tainted because it's marketing driven, giving preference to commercial sites like Yelp or companies over actual, useful results.

          Of course, you can argue that Siri is labeled as beta by Apple. But, to Woz's point, how did it end up being worse than it was as a standalone app available at the App Store? The one Apple bought when Steve Jobs was still running the company?

          Which brings me back to a earlier point. Jobs' authorized biography says that he was at diminished capacity when Siri was being tested, too weak to come into the office. He only tried the current form of Siri at his last board meeting. He briefly played with it and, understandably given the moment, didn't show much interest. That was it. It's hard to believe that he would have let software with 68% accuracy to ever be installed in a shipping product.

          A new version of Siri is coming in the new iOS 6. It looks a lot more useful, but I just hope that Apple ditches the commercialism in favor of giving the answers you actually need. [Fortune]

          • And why? Because it now also searches Google. No mention of Google Voice Search.

            Now, who's making stuff up? Siri doesn't use Google results according to this SEO [inc.com].

            Who cares if it doesn't, unlike you I was quoting Woz from the article. If you want to slam your own witness ...

    • Re:not equivalent (Score:4, Informative)

      by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:49PM (#40926009) Journal

      And it does little to address either the vertical search gap presented by Yelp, or the "diagonal" functionality gap that Siri addresses by smoothly integrating with your other iOS apps like text message, alarm or calendar.

      Can't speak for Google Voice Search on Android, but...

      Awhile ago, we were making a McDonald's run and I asked Jennifer what she wanted. She told me to pick her up a 6-piece McNuggets with Barbecue sauce. I pulled out my iPhone and wrote myself a note in the notepad: Jennifer's order is a 6-piece McNuggets with Barbecue sauce. I then brought up Siri and said, "Siri, what is Jennifer's order?" Siri thought for a moment and said, "I don't know. Would you like me to search the web for Jennifer's order?"

      What's funny is that when I went to the iOS Search Screen, turned on the microphone, and said, "Jennifer's order," the first thing to pop up was the note that I had written.

      So, no, Siri only integrates with some of Apple's apps.

  • by mimicoctopus (2701643) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @07:37PM (#40924703)
    Apple ought to have been prosecuted for its anti-competitive practices a long time ago. I have no idea why this hasn't happened.

    For God's sake, Microsoft is forced to include a nag screen advertising other browsers (including the ones virtually nobody uses) while Apple gets a free pass to prevent others browsers from even functioning properly on iOS, censors its competitors and dissidents in its app store, and makes use of vendor lock-in wherever it can.

    Why the double standard?
  • Regardless of what Google may have said about its "biggest threat", search engines are the backbone of many other interesting services anyway. Nowadays it's how we get everywhere. Most of the time I barely bother with bookmarks: if I want to find a locksmith in West Fooville, I might google "locksmith in west fooville kentucky" or I might speak it into a phone, but it's the search engine that's doing the heavy lifting. I suspect that the targeted ads in gmail are built on top of their search engine in so

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @08:31PM (#40925359)

    I really don't like these new voice features. Having to hear the incessant blathering from some cell phone users is bad enough - now I have to hear them talking at their phones when they're not on a call?

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Try to see the humor in the scene, get a good chuckle and move on. That's what I do.
    • Virtual boy/girl friends. It'll happen. blabbing to somebody who is actually interested. Eliza is probably enough for many teens already. We've had the SIMs and virtual pets -- some progression and integration is going to happen with this stuff.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      I really don't like these new voice features. Having to hear the incessant blathering from some cell phone users is bad enough - now I have to hear them talking at their phones when they're not on a call?

      "Even though I've badly wanted voice control since the first day I saw Star Trek, I've decided to start hating it even before it becomes mainstream.

      Nerd hipsterism.

    • by dwpro (520418)

      I agreed that it's somewhat obnoxious in public, but a good voice command is vastly superior way to interface with my phone for some tasks in private environments and especially while driving. I can say "navigate to Foo Bar " or even something like "text John Smith I'm running 10 minutes behind" and google has been quite impressive at resolving these commands.

  • While it seems like the early versions of the iOS App may limit voice input to search, it makes sense that Google's angling to compete with Siri's personal assistant functionality by integrating with Google Calendar, Gmail, etc. Using the Google's iOS Voice App to "book an appointment" on an iPhone configured with Google's ActiveSync/Exchange Gmail and Calendar connector could appear to behave identically to Siri.

    Siri would presumably trigger a calendar event creation directly on the phone after receivi
  • Apple evil. Google angelic. Discuss. Google should make a commercial where hordes of drab, chain-laden shills are listening to Steve on a huge video display spout off about conformity. Then that one guy, the CEO that stole phone secrets while on Apple's board, forgot his name, anyway he breaks his chains and hurls a giant penguin into the video screen. And, and, it shatters. And then all the sheeple break out of their bonds and...well, you know.

    Bow to your god, slashdot. Bow to google.
    MC

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How's that overblown emotional investment in Apple working out for ya?

  • Can Google invent a text search feature? You know, where you type words into a text box and Google returns a list of pages that contain those words? That would be cool. Can Google work on that next?

  • I find it weird that these advanced voice services aren't available pre-Jelly Bean. I wouldn't have thought it was a technical limitation - aren't all the voice commands just fired off into some cloudy thing anyway?

    I can imagine they want to give people incentive to upgrade to a new phone, but Apple tried that with Siri and seemed to get routinely bashed for it. I haven't seen too many people (other than me :) bitching about it for Android though...

    • by harmic (856749)
      So you didnt read the part in the summary where it said "already available in Jelly Bean, but also available via downloadable app" Anyway why would google want to provide an incentive to upgrade to a new phone? They don't even make phones and they give the OS away for free. It is actually in their best interest to have this new function available as widely as possible since they make their money through advertising.
      • by trawg (308495)

        I have the "downloadable app" (assuming it is just called "Google Voice Search"). It is a basic front end that gives you the ability to do some voice commands - IF your device is set to US English (I'm in Australia but I have my phone set to US English so I have access to these extra commands).

        Some of the commands you can do are:

        "set alarm for 8.30pm"
        "note to self"
        "send email to"
        "navigate to" ...but it doesn't - as far as I can see - equal the advanced functionality that has been made available in Jelly Be

  • Google: What will it take to get this app in the app store?
    Apple: It would take an act of Congress.
    ... some time later ...
    Apple: It was a figure of speech!
  • I wonder if Google Voice Search will work on the iPhone 4 or the iPad 1/2? They aren't powerful enough to run the Siri web service /sarcasm :P
  • I'd be satisfied with a Google "improvement" that allowed it to search on what you typed in without having to use quotation marks. It would also be nice if it didn't ask whether you meant Hancock when you typed in Hanock.
    • I'd be satisfied with a Google "improvement" that allowed it to search on what you typed in without having to use quotation marks. It would also be nice if it didn't ask whether you meant Hancock when you typed in Hanock.

      Oooh, how about not also searching for "similar" terms - including abbreviations which can completely derail a search. Eg. Pennsylvania == PA == Public Address - now guess what happens when you search for "loudness Pennsylvania". It doesn't get better when Google starts mixing languages.

    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      What world do you live in? Quotation marks barely help any more. :(

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