Google offers speak-and-search for the iPhone

One major feature the Google/T-Mobile G1 has over Apple's iPhone is it's swivel-out keyboard

. The iPhone touchscreen keyboard is not all that intuitive and typing out simple texts and e-mails takes some time and patience. But Google refuses to let such a small thing stand in the way of getting all those deep-pocketed iPhone users onto its mobile search engine. The company just rolled out an app that lets iPhone users simply speak a query and let the phone do the work.

According to this article in the New York Times, Apple will make the free application available via its iTunes store today. With the app, every spoken query is converted to a digital file and sent to a Google server, where it is translated into text and passed along to Google's search engine. It then returns the results, sometimes even taking into account the user's location. It also uses the iPhone's built-in accelerometer--which senses how the phone is being held--to put the software in "listen" mode when the phone is held up to a user's ear.

According to the article:

The service can be used to get restaurant recommendations and driving directions, look up contacts in the iPhone’s address book or just settle arguments in bars. The query “What is the best pizza restaurant in Noe Valley?” returns a list of three restaurants in that San Francisco neighborhood, each with starred reviews from Google users and links to click for phone numbers and directions.

Pretty cool. It makes sense that Google would offer such a tool on the Apple phone first, due to its bigger installed base and keyboard shortcomings. But the company also plans to roll it out to "other" phones soon. Let's hope we see a similar app for Android soon. It could just be the killer app for the mobile Internet.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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