NEW DELHI, 24 June-2014, Javed Anwer,TNN: Google on Tuesday said that now its voice search supports Indian accents and dialects. Though the language that is supported remains English, Google said that the new technology would help the voice search recognise the commands better even if they are spoken in heavily-accented manner.
“From asking Google where you can watch the latest movie to finding out cricket scores at the touch of a button, Google is there to help you get the answers you need,” said Sandeep Menon, head of marketing, Google India. “We’re delighted to showcase the improvements we’ve made to Search for Indian users today. These features demonstrate Google’s commitment to India and to continually improving Indian users’ search experience.”
The web company said that to make the voice search compatible with Indian dialect, it worked with over 700 volunteers. “We collected spoken utterances to create the specific language models which power English voice search in the Indian accent. Our volunteers are asked to read popular search queries in a variety of acoustic conditions such as in restaurants, out on busy streets, and inside cars, to best reflect real life and the role Search has in helping connect users with relevant information they need to go about their day,” said a Google spokesperson.
The voice search is available to Android phones running version 2.3 or above, iOS devices like iPhones and iPads and Windows computers through Chrome browser.
Google combines voice search with Google Now, a feature shows information cards when a user needs them, to offer consumers a smart virtual assistant to which they can dictate commands such as “set up alarm”.
As Microsoft, Apple and Google battle in the smartphone market, a virtual assistant have become a unique and important feature.
Apple’s recent iPhones and iPads come with Siri, a virtual assistant, that can not only set up alarm but can also talk back to tell a user a joke, if required. However, the voice recognition technology in Siri is not all that good and it finds understanding English spoken in Indian dialect difficult.
Microsoft’s latest mobile OS — Windows Phone 8.1 — comes with a virtual assistant called Cortana. Cortana is much better at recognising voice compared to Siri but the feature is officially only limited to the US so far. However, by changing the language settings in a Windows Phone 8.1 device, consumers can access Cortana in India.
Google Now (and voice search) is not talkative like Siri and Cortana. Google Now cannot tell users a joke. But it is adept at automatically pulling in information when a user is likely to need it. For example, if you use an Android Phone with Google Now and travel to the US, the feature will automatically sense the change in the location and show you how much a dollar will cost you as soon as you get out of the airport.
“Google Now helps by proactively bringing information to you before you ask, and marks another step in the evolution of Google Search — from ten blue links to keywords to structured knowledge in the Knowledge Graph. You can opt in to Google Now when you open up the Google Search App, whether on iOS or on Android,” said the Google spokesperson.