Google Rolls Out Maps Navigation, Mobile Voice Search, Improved Gmail Chat, Caffeine

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Google recently and it seems the company wants to attract positive attention today, with a series of announcements that we’ll share with you here. The first one is its Caffeine indexing system that we’ve looked at in an earlier post.

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Google Maps Navigation Extends To 11 More Countries

The company’s web powered GPS navigation system based on Google Maps has now been rolled out locally (i.e. in the language of the place) in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.
The service is available for users of Android devices 1.6 and higher, it said.

Google Maps Navigation includes the following features: Search in plain English, Traffic view, Search along route, Satellite view, Street View, Car dock mode, Navigation shortcut and Search by voice.

Here’s a video tour:

Search By Voice In Four More Languages

Turning to basic search from a mobile device, Google’s Search by Voice, which so far had only been available in English, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese, is now also fully accessible in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

This voice recognition technology is crucial when you drive (as integrated in the company’s GPS Navigation app) but also when you travel to a country – provided it recognizes words and phrases even when their pronunciation is not perfect. It’s one way of maintaining visitor retina loyalty across the globe.

“Note that our new language models are designed for accents from Spain, France, Italy, and Germany. If you speak one of the new languages with another accent (for example, German in Austria, French in Switzerland, or Spanish in Mexico), Search by voice may not work so well for you,” Google pointed out on its blog post.

Some comments on the post though tend to show unsatisfactory speech recognition capacities in English…

Enhanced Gmail Chat Window Promotes Video Chat
Remaining in the area of speech, Google has also released an optimized version of its Gmail chat window to allow easier use of video and voice chat over the platform.
If you have ever tried, it was tricky to manage to find how to turn on the video option but once you had the knack of it you were done. This time, it’s simply on the menu of the chat window as below:

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Google said that when released on Orkut and iGoogle, similar features had brought about “a dramatic uptick in people using video chat,” meaning that they are relying on the same ripple effect for Gmail chat.

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