Len Klie

Goodbye Goog-411

Google ended its week Oct. 8 by announcing that it would be discontinuing the free Goog-411 directory assistance service that it has offered for the past three years. The death knell will officially sound on Nov. 12.

Goog-411, the first speech-enabled directory assistance service, was reportedly a front for Google to gather utterances to build up the speech recognition in its other voice endeavors, which include the full suite of Google Voice applications and other smartphone  applications, such as

  • Voice Search – search Google by speaking instead of typing;
  • Voice Input – fill in any text field on an Android phone by speaking instead of typing; and
  • Voice Actions – control your Android phone with voice commands.

Based on the fact that Google is now discontinuing the service, can we safely say that the search giant has collected enough of those utterances? I should hope not; when it comes to improving speech technologies, you can never have too many utterances on file.

I’ll miss Goog-411. I’ve used it a few times, though at first it was a little unwieldy. I guess I can take comfort, though, that Google has not completely abandoned me.¬†Google says it plans to continue offering a text message-based directory assistance service for those of us not techie enough to have a smartphone. A user needs only type in the name and location of the business he wants to contact into a text message sent to Google and the company will return the information back to him as a text message (standard text-messaging rates apply, of course).