Was anyone else really looking forward to being able to use the much hyped Google Voice Search feature for the iPhone? I mean, you could not move for news about the thing in the blogosphere last week, even the New York Times ran with a story about it and there was a tempting video demo doing the rounds.
Who would not be seduced by the thought of bringing Star Trek alive and doing a Captain Kirk in the high street? iPhone: Google 'fish and chip shops' it is a dream come true for sad folk like me.
Well, not quite true. Mainly because Google seems to have lost its voice on this occasion. There is still no sign of the iPhone app that will let you speak and search. Maybe this is not altogether surprising, given that voice recognition remains pants in most real world implementations. By real world I mean when used in an environment which is not otherwise silent. By real world I mean when used with your normal speaking voice and not involving you having to do an impression of that chap who introduces movie trailers or speak so slow that passers by think you are retarded. By real world I mean that when you say 'what is the time' the software does not think you said 'where is the toilet.'
The chances of actually being able to speak and search, on the street, via your iPhone and get Google results that come anywhere close to what you were expecting are, I imagine, fairly low.
Still, the video demo did look good. It appeared to show someone simply speaking the search terms into the iPhone and getting almost instant, and spot on, results. Of course, this being the iPhone, you also get that GPS location stuff thrown in to the mix. Now we are really talking Trek. Not only can Google tell me about fish and chips but where the nearest chip shop is. How cool is that?
Oh yes, sorry, I forgot. Not cool at all because Google Voice Search for iPhone is still vaporware right now. Although the word on the vine is that it will appear during the course of the day today as America wakes up.
Interesting for cell phones but what about desktops?... I found a new desktop speech recognition application that is a free download. It's named tazti (tasty). here are a couple of links about it. It works with iTunes, Facebook, Myspace and all the search engines... Not just Google.
I really do have faith that this will work, think about the limitations of current voice recognition software:
Desktop software like Dragon is too resource intensive to work on your run-of-the mill cell-phone and requires a headset to work properly, which makes it less than idea on a desktop for casual use (dictating a letter or paper, on the other hand, works because it's worth putting a headset on for a big project).
Phone based voice recognition has the advantage of good microphones (usually a bluetooth headset) but the disadvantage of being built on a low-power platform and not really being smart enough to handle meaningful voice recognition.
The Iphone on the other hand, potentially has the best of both. It has more brains than your average phone, better sound hardware than you're run-of-the-mill desktop and, if you're working with googles app, one of the best development teams in the world. I'm not saying it will be perfect, but I think if any device has the potential to make voice-as-an-interface work for the internet it's an Iphone with a good headset and a google application.