Google adds rival voice-based search for iOS

Google has unveiled upgrades to its search engine, with a voice search application available to iOS devices and Gmail content included in search results.

Google adds rival voice-based search for iOS

According to Google, its voice-based search function – a rival to Apple’s Siri – will be available soon for iPhones and iPads.

“Often the most natural way to ask a question is by asking aloud. So we’ve combined our speech recognition expertise, understanding of language and the Knowledge Graph so that Voice Search can better interpret your questions and sometimes speak the answers back as full sentences,” said Amit Singhal, Google Search vice president in a blog.

“This has been available on Android for a few weeks. It’ll soon be available on your iPhone or iPad.”

The move could be seen as a counter attack on Apple, which has recently been stripping Google services from its iOS operating platform, and analysts suspect Apple may dump Google as its main search engine when their current agreement runs out.

Google’s launch will give iPhone users options should Apple end the search relationship.

“You just need to tap the microphone icon and ask your question, the same way you’d ask a friend. For example, ask ‘What movies are playing this weekend?’ and you’ll see your words streamed back to you quickly as you speak,” said Singhal. “It works for everything from celebrity factoids to the height of Kilimanjaro.”

Gmail results

Google also announced a trial service for people who want their Gmail inboxes included in search results, claiming the move would make it easier to search for personal information such as flight details.

The limited trial is open for Gmail users to sign up, and according to Google it should free up information within user inboxes.

“Sometimes the best answer to your question isn’t available on the public web — it may be contained somewhere else, such as in your email,” the company said. “You shouldn’t have to be your own mini search engine to find the most useful information: it should just work.”

How the results will differ from a straight search within within Gmail is unclear. “We’re working on some even more useful features,” Singhal said. “For example, if you search for ‘my flights’ we will organise flight confirmation emails for any upcoming trips in an easy-to-read way right on the search results page.”

Google also said it was making its Knowledge Graph available to non-US countries, with the service due to roll out within days. According to Google, the Knowledge Graph means searches should deliver more relevant results based on where the search is undertaken, and present a more contextual set of results using social networks and other content.

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