A Guide To Google Voice Search On iOS

A few weeks ago, Google’s highly anticipated update to its search app that added Siri like functionality went live on the App Store. The update was very well received, since it outperformed Siri in terms of pure speed, and understood a wider variety of accents as compared to Siri. It also adds advanced voice search to older generation devices like the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS that Siri doesn’t support.

Since Google Voice Search is relatively new, it hasn’t been explored as much as Siri and there might be many types of voice commands which are supported by Google, but you may not know about. We’ve dug around and found a few that you might like.

Google put up a support document detailing these areas:

  • Weather: [ What’s the weather like tomorrow morning? ]
  • Locations: [ Where’s the nearest gas station? Is there a pharmacy nearby? What’s a good place for sushi? ]
  • Flight status: [ When does United Airlines flight 900 depart? ]
  • Time: [ What time is it in London? ]
  • Events: [ When is sunset? When is Passover? When are the Olympics? ]
  • Math: [ What’s 15% of 47 dollars and 44 cents? What is the square root of 2209? ]
  • Translation: [ How do you say cucumber in Spanish? ]
  • Sports: [ Did the Giants win? When is the Red Sox game? ]
  • Finance: [ How is the S&P 500 doing today? ]
  • Trivia: [ How tall is the tallest building in the world? ]
  • Conversions: [ How many dollars is 2600 rupees? ]
  • Images [ Show me pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge ]

An informatory card within the app details several other questions you could ask:

  • What is the definition of paragon?
  • How do I make chocolate chip cookies?
  • Show me Lady Gaga videos

Additionally, Google also appears to be giving its implementation of Siri a funny side, just like Apple did. Try asking it “who am I?” (we’ll let you discover that one on your own) or “Tell me a joke.”

Voice Search can be turned on or off from the gear icon located at the top of the first screen of the app. Here are some examples of the question and the results (your milage may vary):


Click on the image to see a slideshow of all the screenshots

By default, Google will select a language that is spoken in your country, but voice feedback is not supported for all languages. Even region specific English support differs. For instance, English (India) is a supported input language, but there’s no vocal feedback for queries. As a workaround for such cases, you could choose English (U.S.) as the input language, for which vocal feedback is activated. Accuracy does take a hit, however, but tuning your accent slightly to play nice with the voice recognition algorithm improves the hit rate. Ideally, i would have wanted separate language selection for voice input and feedback, but as of now this works. Google also says, that it will be expanding this functionality to other languages soon.

Even without the vocal feedback, Google’s card interface is really nice, giving informational results in response to standard queries.

If you’re jailbroken, there’s even a way to replace Siri with Google Voice search.

By playing to its strengths, Google’s built a really solid competitor to Siri, and we hope that future releases of the app make it even more powerful. Give it a try yourself, and try some off the wall queries and let us know what you get.

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