Google Adds Voice Search to Google Maps

Google has added voice search to Google Maps for Chrome browser users, allowing users to ask for directions verbally and more find hard-to-spell locations. The addition is part of the ongoing integration of voice-recognition technology.

Voice Search Options in Google Maps

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Users who go to maps.google.com will now see a microphone icon in their search bar. Clicking on the icon allows users to speak their query, quickly pulling up their locations, getting directions, and otherwise navigating through Maps. Additionally, as the Google LatLong post introducing the feature specifies, "Using voice search can make it easier to find hard-to-spell places (like Poughkeepsie or Liechtenstein)."

The voice search technology for Maps is also integrated into the Google Earth layer, where a new plugin allows users to say the name of a location a get a fly-over from inside their browser.

This is one of several integrations of voice recognition technology for Google. Google has been focused on voice for several years now (aided early on by the now defunct GOOG-411 service), and the most prominent use of the technology is seen in Google Android. However, Google recently added voice search to Google.com for desktop browsers. The addition to Maps indicates that Google will be using this technology in a variety of services.

At Google's Inside Search event in June, Google shared some stats on Google Voice Search:

  • Spoken queries to Google have risen sixfold over the last year.
  • Google teaches its English Voice Search system using 230 billion words from real queries. 
  • Every single day people speak more than two years worth of voice to Google's system.

For several years now, I've heard people talk about how your type speed isn't going to matter in the future. The reason is that, according to these people, voice recognition is going to replace typing as our standard way of interacting with computers. While this may be a little bit "Star Trek" for 2011, it certainly seems that we're progressing in that direction, and Google is one of the front-runners for that technology.