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Google Extends Voice Search to Chinese Listen to this article in TTS, powered by Loquendo

The company says Mandarin Chinese is the first of many languages to be available.
By Leonard Klie - Posted Nov 3, 2009
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It’s been a year since Internet search engine giant Google launched a service that lets users conduct mobile searches using their voices. Originally available only in English, the service became available yesterday to Mandarin Chinese speakers using Nokia S60 smartphones.

The new version of Google Mobile App places a widget, or shortcut, to Google search on the Nokia phone’s screen, and users can access the search function by voice or typing. Google Mobile App shows the results right in the application, so users don’t need to wait for a Web browser to launch.

According to the Google blog post where the Mandarin service was first announced, the search giant decided on Chinese after looking “carefully at demographics and Internet populations.”

According to the company, making the application available in Chinese was not without its challenges, least of which were the many regional accents and dialects spoken and different character representations. “This is a first version of Mandarin search by voice, and it’s rough around the edges,” the company stated. “It might not work very well if you have a strong southern Chinese accent, for example, but we will continue working to improve it.”

And Google maintains that the more people use it, the more it will improve. In the year since its English version came out, the software has been fine-tuned to understand accents from the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

According to the post, Google also plans to add other languages and mobile platforms, such as Android and iPhone.

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