Google’s voice search: Why on iPhone, not Android?


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Google plans to release a groundbreaking mobile application that allows users to say a search query into their phone and have it transcribed and returned as a Web search. Surprisingly, the technology won’t be exclusive to T-Mobile’s G1 phone, the first commercial device to run Google’s Android operating system. It’s only going to be available on Apple’s iPhone at first.

When Google released Android, some worried that development for other mobile platforms would slow down. But Google’s mobile search team works separately from the Android group, and it is more concerned with pushing innovative products out the door than it is with wooing consumers to the G1.


‘I want to bring the most valuable applications to as many users as possible,’ said Gummi Hafsteinsson, senior product manager for the mobile team. ‘We treat all high-end [mobile] platforms equally.’

The G1 has a built-in function that allows users to say a contact’s name to trigger a call -- something lacking in the iPhone out of the box. And Android has its own app store, but currently no Google voice Web search app. ‘We’re obviously working hard to add as many devices as possible,’ Hafsteinsson said.

The voice search function will be part of an update to the Google Mobile App for iPhone, a Web and contacts search app that hasn’t seen an upgrade in two-and-a-half months. To use speak search, simply open the app, hold the phone up to your ear and yap your query. Voice search doesn’t yet support contact look-up -- iPhone users can download Say Who Dialer (the link opens iTunes) for that -- but matching names in your address book will still show up for text searches.

Google expects that the new version of Google Mobile App will be available in the iTunes App Store later tonight or some time this weekend.

-- Mark Milian