Google Shuttering GOOG-411 Directory Service Nov. 12
Google Oct. 8 said it would be winding down its voice-powered directory assistance service that helped connect users to businesses in the United States and Canada on Nov. 12.
Google launched 1-800-GOOG-411 in 2007. While the company advertised the service on billboards as a directory service people used to find businesses across the country, it may have helped the company's future software endeavors even more.
The search engine used peoples' thousands of voice requests to polish its own speech recognition capabilities.
Specifically, Google mined users' spoken information requests to gain speech patterns and intonations to analyze and improve the way its own speech recognition software works.
This, Google said, "helped provide a foundation for more ambitious services now available on smartphones."
These include the iconic Voice Search and Voice Input technologies available on most Android smartphones, such as Verizon Wireless' Droid lineup and the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint.
But the real replacement for GOOG-411 is the Voice Actions for Android service Google launched in August.
Voice Actions let users call any business from their Android smartphone by saying its name, allowing users on-the-go to more efficiently contact restaurants, local shops and other establishments.
"Our success encouraged us to aim for more innovation," according to a Google blog post. "Thus, we're putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages."
Google is still helping users who don't own a smartphone find local businesses. Feature phone users may send a text message with the name and location of the business to 466453 ("GOOGLE") and service representatives for GOOG-411 will text them the info.
Google also recommends Gmail users leverage its Call Phones from Gmail feature to call any U.S. business free.