An obvious use of the GOOG-411 service is to add speech recognition to Google's mobile mapping application. Microsoft already has voice support in Live Search for Windows Mobile and that's an important differentiating factor when you are on the go and you need a quick answer.
Google started to test Google Maps with voice search for three Blackberry Pearl models: 8110, 8120, 8130 and only for the US. Instead of typing when you want to search for a local business, hold the left-side key, say what you want to find and then release the key. Google Maps Mobile will display the search results on the map.
"Similar to other voice-recognition technologies, the accuracy of voice recognition will improve over time as more people use the voice search feature," says Google Mobile Blog. In fact, the main reason why GOOG-411 has been developed was to obtain data to train Google's speech recognition algorithms. "Whether or not free-411 is a profitable business unto itself is yet to be seen. I myself am somewhat skeptical. The reason we really did it is because we need to build a great speech-to-text model ... that we can use for all kinds of different things, including video search," explained Marissa Mayer from Google.
Speech recognition could greatly facilitate the way we interact with mobile phones and it's not hard to imagine that voice search will be the main way we'll use search engines in the future. This will change the way people formulate queries and processing natural language will become increasingly important. Microsoft's acquisition of Powerset, a so-called semantic search engine, could improve the way Live Search handles complicated queries, even though it's difficult to scale the computationally-intensive process of parsing text to the web and to all languages.