“Google-411, or Google Local Voice Search [is] ostensibly a product that provided free directory assistance, [however] Google was mostly interested in capturing the way different people pronounced words,” Quentin Hardy reports for The New York Times.

“While Voice Search is new, Google’s linguists have five years of data on billions of pronunciations,” Hardy reports. “A year ago, just for the English language, Google had a database of 230 billion word strings, and had worked on 23 other languages, based largely on 411 and a related voice-based search product.”

Hardy reports, “Apple never worked on that kind of feature, which is one reason Siri is one of the few products Apple officially released in beta form. It is building up its database of speech during Siri’s early life. Some of the cute ways Siri talks when it does not understand a question, such as repeating back what you have said, may in fact be efforts to see if you will correct its understanding.”

Read more in the full article here.

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