If you have an iPhone and were hoping to have another search assistant that talks back to you, Google has you covered.
“Often the most natural way to ask a question is by asking aloud,” says Google’s Amit Singhal in the announcement. “So we’ve combined our speech recognition expertise, understanding of language and the Knowledge Graph so that Voice Search can better interpret your questions and sometimes speak the answers back as full sentences. This has been available on Android for a few weeks and people love it. It’ll soon be available on your iPhone or iPad (iOS version 4.2+).”
“You just need to tap the microphone icon and ask your question, the same way you’d ask a friend,” adds Singhal. “For example, ask ‘What movies are playing this weekend?’ and you’ll see your words streamed back to you quickly as you speak. Then Google will show you a list of the latest movies in theaters near you, with schedules and even trailers. It works for everything from celebrity factoids to the height of Kilamanjaro and more. When Google can supply a direct answer to your question, you’ll get a spoken response too.”
Now, obviously the feature is limited to Google search, and does not do all the things Siri can do, but it will be interesting to see how the feature competes with Siri on some types of information retrieval among iOS users.
The feature comes at a time when Google and Apple are growing further and further apart. Earlier this summer, Apple announced its new Maps offering, distancing itself from Google Maps, and just this week, it became known that Apple is also dropping its YouTube app. Of course, Google is just offering its own apps, which many users will no doubt use anyway.
This particular voice search feature appears to be just another way for Google to combat any souring relationship with Apple, and stay relevant to users.