Google to Hang Up on Free DA

A Google blog post late last week said the search engine giant will shut down its free voice-powered Goog-411 directory assistance service on Nov. 12.

The post, written by the Goog-411 team, said Google will be “putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages.

The service, launched in 2007, was the first speech recognition service from Google and helped provide a foundation for more ambitious services now available on smartphones, such as:

  • Voice Search - search Google by speaking instead of typing;
  • Voice Input - fill in any text field on Android by speaking instead of typing; and
  • Voice Actions - control your Android phone with voice commands.

Goog-411 users who don’t have a smartphone can still use Google to reach out to businesses. “You can send a text message with the name and location of the business to 466453 ("GOOGLE") and we’ll text you the information, or on Gmail you can use the new phone-calling features to call any U.S. business free of charge,” the blog post said.

Meanwhile, the folks at Microsoft were all too eager to pounce on Google’s withdrawal from the market. “While Google may be turning off their service, Microsoft is not,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.  

Microsoft’s Bing411 service delivers traffic, weather, movie show times, and turn-by-turn navigation, to customers. Bing411 uses the Microsoft/Tellme speech platform, a cloud-based offering that handles more than 2 billion calls per year from Bing411 and other services.

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