What a fabulous idea
Use the US to collect data that will be used to power applications that will (in all likelihood) be deployed globally.
I'm sceptical that their collected data can manage to understand a cockney accent.
Google is pulling the plug on 1-800-GOOG-411, the free voice-powered directory assistance service that began connecting callers to local businesses in 2007. According to a Google blog post, the service will be shutdown on November 12. After it launched in the US and Canada, the service was heavily advertised – Google even put …
Americans, with their liberal English language and high cultural diversity, actually make use of so many phonemes that taking samples from them can actually cover quite a few bases in and of itself. It's part of what makes learning American English as a second language so difficult: we accommodate too easily.
With a plain old dumbphone it was one way to get around Verizon's $1.99 directory assistance charges.
But because it was built on top of Google's crap data it would give me phone numbers for places that had closed years ago, or the wrong location for things. Same as Google Maps. I would guess that it happened to me about 20% of the time.
...they used lots of indian humans to do the job.
And if I recall correctly, they were pretty pissed once they realised they weren't going to get paid for it.
So, congratulations to all the Google beta testers. You're not going to get paid for it.
So a US only service is ended. A service that mostly everyone else on the planet knew nothing about and cared about even less. This is news?
Google, who do no evil, have collected data of americans speaking whatever language it is they speak over there. This data will then be used to 'train' their speech to text engine. So long as we all learn to talk like Sparky The Magic Piano we'll be able to use this wonderful Mountain View product.
Don't you just love americans? Their country and society was formed by people from every other country on the planet. Yet they know little about, care nothing about and arrogantly disregard anything outside their own borders.
I'd like to see this cope with any of the dialects we have in the UK alone. Never mind speaking English with an accent, non-american that is.
Has anyone any good explanation why the US habit of replacing some digits within phone numbers by the letters to which they map on the phone's keyboard has never really caught on in the UK? The only UK one I can think of, off-hand, is Smile's 0870 THE BANK, which I doubt anyone uses in that form.
Of course, in the early days of the UK phone system we had alphabetical exchanges, abbreviated to three characters. (WHItehall 1212, anybody?)
*interesting to me, at any rate...
Boring factoid.. the old area codes *were* based on letters, just not commonly used.
6(M) for Manchester, 5(L) for Liverpool, etc.
(also see http://www.rhaworth.myby.co.uk/phreak/std_geog.htm)
Since until the advent of digital switching you couldn't choose your number, businesses never picked up the habit of using letters.. and now never do because nobody understands it.
The reason people often used to answer the phone 'Springfield 1234' was because prior to digital exchanges it was common practice to be able to dial local codes just using the 4 digits. Nowadays it's just quaint.
Say for example if you had a business selling laptops, you'd go for 1-800 LAPTOPS, which would translate to 1-800 527 8677. They're the letters mapped to the same keys on an alphanumeric keypad, i.e. 1= ABC, 2=DEF, and so on.
As a Brit, I really shouldn't know this.
I'll go get my coat now.
If memory serves me correctly BT (or was it the post office at this time) took the lettering off the phones it supplied when the STD exchanges were introduced and areas given numbers.
As you had to have the number they issued you with, there was no opportunity to get a phone number that made a word, so it was a totally logical action at the time.
Makes you misty eyed for the days when you had to wait 3 months to get a phone connected and then it may only be a party line if they did not have a spare connection at the exchange.
In case nobody's totally spelled it out here...
For a number of years -- including five or ten in my own childhood memory -- local exchanges on US telephone numbers were often referred to by mnemonics built around the first two numbers of the three-number exhange; in face, for some odd reason, I can still remember the number our house had when I was about seven years old, when my parents first trained me to use the telephone: Twin Oaks 3-5421, or TW3-5421, or 893-5421.
This used to come in fairly handy up until I was about twelve or thirteen, a point where I'd learned so many phone numbers that the alphabetical mnemonic actually got in the way, and I started just learning them straight numeric. It wasn't long after that, around the early '70s or so, that the alpha mnemonic was phased out in favor of straight numeric exchange listings.
Then of course, around the late '70s came all those commercials on late-night TV with custom toll-free numbers such as 1-800-MATTRESS (for a local mattress shop) which, while designed to make the numbers easier to remember, were just a pain in the ass and slowed me down as I paused to mentally map the alpha mnemonic to the keypad on my phone.
That said... yeah, as was mentioned here... typical fvck!ng Google. I never even knew about that "service" of theirs until just now.