Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) has launched its voice search for Android and Apple's iOS in Hebrew and Arabic. The upgrade is significant; until now voice identification software could not handle Hebrew, and had to cope with Hebrew-accented English.
The voice search feature will be available for Android 2.2 Froyo and higher versions as well as for iPhones. Users will be able to search the internet by talking directly into their phones. For example, say "breakfast" in Hebrew, and Google will offer the search results. An examination by "Globes" found that the Hebrew voice search is quite effective.
Google says that the new feature is operated and updated directly from the internet, which improves the search results, as they are based on the system learning from users' experience.
Google said, "Users in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, UAE, and Israel can now speak Arabic and Hebrew into their phones to get search results quickly and easily. With this launch, Voice Search is now supported in 29 languages and accents in 37 countries.
"When building support for Arabic and Hebrew into our language model we faced some unique challenges, including how to understand words with diacritics (accents that indicate a difference in pronunciation, a linguistic phenomenon called “nikud” in Hebrew, and “tashkil” in Arabic) and words appended with other words (“and” for example) that can have many different nuanced meanings. To train our system we collected over one million utterances in Arabic and Hebrew, using the languages as they are spoken in the more populated parts of each country."
The new application operates via the microphone icon on the Google Search widget on a Android 2.2 or later version. Tapping the icon starts a voice-powered search. The Voice Search app can be installed from Android Market or from the App store for iPhones. If the feature is already functioning in English, it is necessary to change the language definition.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 6, 2011
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