Fast Company

Google Brings Voice to the iPhone

The New York Times reported Friday that Google will be launching a new application for Apple’s iPhone that will allow the phone to understand the human voice. Finally catching up with the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft (who already offer voice services for cellphones), Google has taken another step toward becoming a serious player in the smartphone and advertising industries.

The Google voice-recognition software is reportedly very accurate – much more so than that of its competitors – part of the reason for this being the vast collection of data Google is able to draw upon. (It is speculated that Google employs up to 450,000 servers, which of course are home to an enormous diversity of information.)

Users of the application will be able to ask the iPhone a wide variety of questions, from “where’s the closest Thai restaurant?” to “What’s the 7th planet from the sun?” In an interesting move, Google has brought this technology to the iPhone before its own phone, the G1. But don’t worry, users can probably expect that to change before too long.

How does the voice application work?

Apparently, the sound of your voice is converted into a digital file by the voice-recognition application, which then sends the recorded file to Google’s servers. These magical servers then decode your question before passing it along to the Google Search Engine. Presto, the SE gives you the results.

Apple is expected to add the application to its iTunes store early this week.

Is there anything Google can’t do?

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