Review: Google (voice) App for iPhone

The much-awaited voice-activated Google Mobile App for iPhone is at last available – and it pretty much lives up to its hype.

The software lets you raise the iPhone to your ear in order to speak a search query. Google warns the voice search feature can only handle English and “works best for North American voices”. Early tests this morning suggest it’s OK for UK English, though some place names and generic UK brand names (Lloyds, for example) did get lost in translation.

That’s why outside of the US, voice search is not enabled by default, once you download the software you’ll need to navigate to Settings inside the App to switch this feature on. The new Google iPhone application comes with Contacts, Previous Searches, Websites and Suggestions as enabled searchable items by default, but you can switch these off.

Also nice is the inclusion of an all-in-on command to take you straight into your Google Apps. You can set the Start screen for various things too, including a view with a keyboard pre-populating the screen.

When you do local searches, Google Mobile App can now automatically use your location to make results more relevant to where you are.

It’s quite whizz-bang watching the software do its work when searching by voice. You do need to press a little button to the top right of the screen to initiate the search, speak into your microphone, and then you get to watch a little representation of the software as it goes through the process.

As we now know the application does its voice recognition by sending a recording of what you are saying back to Google’s servers, which analyse and translate what you said, run a search and return the results. This took a few mili-seconds on WiFi.

So – was this worth the hype? Certainly if you’re a little gadget-obsessed it will be, and the speed and accuracy has been impressive in tests so far. And it does feel futuristic mumbling random phrases into your phone to get immediate results, though it does attract an unusual selection of looks on the train.

What are your first impressions of the software? Share them here in comments.

2 thoughts on “Review: Google (voice) App for iPhone

  1. Danny Jong

    Most of my searches worked well. About 8 out of 10 were recognized correctly by the app. The main complaint is the “raise to your ear and speak” component. Raising the phone to my ear has only started the recording process one time so far out of probably 20 or 30 times of trying to activate it in this way. Perhaps it needs to be tweaked to be a little more sensitive to the motion.

  2. John Jeandron

    Saw the review and YouTube video and thought I’d give it a try. The first voice search for 5 Guys burgers returned the direct hit…my experience following that wasn’t very good however. Possibly due to background noise or maybe it’s because I’m not a 3G iPhone user, but either way the results were laughable. A search for a local car dealership “Shrewsbury Motors” returned 33 Motors. So I figured a search for Volkswagen would maybe get me a better hit…”bull flag in” was the result. Subsequent tries have been useless…well, except for Whole Foods. Given the accuracy rate I’ll be dumping this app from my iPhone for something more useful, like Bebot. LOL.

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