Google plans to focus on voice search in 2014

It's looking to bring voice search on iOS on par with Android

When it comes to search, Google plans to focus on advancing voice search in 2014.

The company also is working to bring voice search in the mobile app for iOS up to par with its counterpart on the Android platform, according to Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi, a Google spokeswoman.

"We're pretty close to par with Android," said Radosavljevic-Szilagyi, in an interview with Computerworld. "On Android, we're also improving search all the time. Ultimately, we want people to be able to use search on both platforms the same way."

She added that Google is pushing forward with voice search because voice control is a more natural and convenient part of users' lives. That's especially true for mobile users who might be walking down a street or carrying an umbrella.

"You should just be able to go through your life and say a quick sentence to your device," said Radosavljevic-Szilagyi. "I think that with the way people use technology today -- using their mobile phone more -- enabling people to get what they need to get done faster is just easier with voice."

So what exactly will Google focus on when it comes to voice?

Voice search needs to become more accurate -- and conversational. It also should be getting more contextual. For instance, a user might first ask, "How far is it to Los Angeles?" Then if the next question is, "What's the temperature there?" the search engine will recognize that the user is still talking about Los Angeles.

"The interaction should become more natural," said Radosavljevic-Szilagyi. "With the growth in mobile, voice just becomes more natural."

The issue is that voice technology still has a ways to go before it's where it needs to be, according to Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group.

"Putting together a truly useful voice search isn't going to be an easy task," said Olds. "Think about all the background noise and stuff that needs to be filtered out. Voice recognition technology has come a long way, but that doesn't mean it's all that great these days."

Olds, though, did say that voice search will be more important to mobile users who are on the go and have a harder time doing a lot of typing.

"I think that voice search will end up being very important for mobile users, but getting highly effective voice search will take longer than anticipated," he added. "In other words, having voice search like you see in the movies just isn't going to happen for quite a while. But speech recognition that aids searching is doable in the short-to-medium run."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is

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