Google has made it easier for people to use its Voice Search feature for Android in native languages around the world by adding another 13 languages to the more than two dozen it already supported.
“Voice Search is already available in 29 languages, and today, we’re bringing support to 13 new languages for Android users-bringing the total to 42 languages and accents in 46 countries,” wrote Bertrand Damiba, a Google product manager, in a post on the company’s Android blog.
“With Voice Search, you can speak into your phone to get search results quickly and easily,” making it easier for travelers and people on the go to get search results without having to type them in, Damiba wrote.
The additional languages are Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, European Portuguese, Finnish, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak and Swedish. By adding these languages to the 29 that were already usable with Voice Search for Android, another 100 million people around the world will be able to use the voice search services in their native language, according to Google.
Getting the languages into the voice search system takes a lot of work, Damiba wrote.
“Each new language usually requires that we initially collect hundreds of thousands of utterances from volunteers and, although we’ve been working on speech recognition for several years, adding these new languages led our engineers and scientists to tackle some unique challenges,” Damiba wrote. “While languages like Romanian follow predictable pronunciation rules, others, like Swedish, required that we recruit native speakers to provide us with the pronunciations for thousands of words. Our scientists then built a machine-learning system based on that data to predict how all other Swedish words would be pronounced.”
The expanded language services will be unveiled over the next week or so.
To operate the service on phones running Android 2.2 or later, users should see a microphone icon on the Google Search widget on the home screen. Tap it to start a voice-powered search. If needed, users can download and install the Voice Search app from Google Play, according to Damiba. “You can only speak one language into the app at a time, and you may need to change your language settings to use one of these new languages.”
Google has been busy lately with additions and improvements to its Voice Search and language offerings across its product lines.
Google Search’s own enhanced version of an Apple Siri-like voice-recognition system will soon be ready for iOS users on Apple iPhones and iPads so they can conduct more accurate Google Web searches using voice commands. The Google Voice Search service, which is already available for Android users, allows users to get an answer by verbally asking a question through a user’s Android device, just like Siri does for iOS users.
Several third-party Android apps have been around for a while, which allow Android users to get Siri-like voice-activation services on their devices. Google already offers its Voice Actions app for Android to provide such capabilities, as well as a Google Search app for Apple, Android and BlackBerry smartphone users, but the upcoming Voice Search app will pull in even more Google resources for better search results.
In May, Google announced that Gmail would again expand the default languages in which it is available, adding Welsh and Latin American Spanish to the 54 languages it had previously supported for users around the world.