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Google Improves Voice Search

David Gilbert


Google Improves Voice Search

Have you been tearing your hair out trying to talk to your phone? Ever ended up dialling Aunty Mary when you were looking to get the number of the girl you met in the nightclub last night? Google Voice Search does have some issues with recognising each person’s voice – especially if you don’t have an American accent and speak a little quickly. That, however could be about to change.

Google has announced an update to it Voice Search app for Android devices which will recognise your voice and over time improve its recognition by learning how you speak. When it launched Voice Search, Google built speech models broad enough to accommodate a wide variety of people, regardless of gender, age, and accents, or variations in pitch, pace, and other factors. “But we always knew we could build a more accurate model by listening to your voice, and learning how you – as a unique individual – speak. So today we’re launching personalized recognition,” a post on the Google Mobile Blog said.

If you opt into "personalized recognition", Google begins to associate the recordings of the words that you ask it to recognise with your Google account. It then automatically uses these words to build a speech model specifically for you. This speech model enables it to deliver greater recognition accuracy. Although subtle, accuracy improvements begin fairly quickly and will build over time claim Google.

The first time you use Voice Search, you’ll be presented with an option to turn on "personalized recognition". Those worried about privacy issues should note that you can enable or disable "personalized recognition" at any time through the Google voice recognition settings on your phone. If you’d like to disassociate your voice recordings from your Google Account, you can do so through the Google Dashboard in the Speech section.

And now for the bad news. The "personalized recognition" function on Google Voice Search is only available in English in the United States - but Google has promised “to support other countries and languages in the near future.” To enable it you will need to be running Android 2.2 or higher and download the latest version of the Voice Search app from Android Market. The new app also includes some improvements to name recognition and speed, especially over 3G and EDGE connections.

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