Google Labs Gets Into the 411 Business

Google Labs has taken the wraps off a new experimental service, Google Voice Local Search, or "Goog 411." The idea is to apply speech recognition and speech synthesis technology to offer local business searches via standard telephones: users just call the service, follow the automated system to enter their queries, and receive results. Goog 411 can even send search results to callers as a text message, saving them the trouble of trying to write down a critical address or phone number while on the go. And, although the service is experimental and may go offline, misbehave, or act strangely, it is available for free in English to U.S. callers. Searches currently cover U.S. business listings.

To access the service, users simply call 800/GOOG-411 (that’s 800/466-4411) from any phone and follow the automated system. The service applies speech recognition technologies to figure out what you’re searching for, and using speech synthesis to read the results back to you. Users can receive their results as a text message to their current number by saying "text message, and Goog 411 can connect users directly to a found business. Unlike some other automated 411 services, Goog 411 users can’t be connected to a live operator, so users searching for something the system doesn’t understand may have to get creative with their mispronunciations or try searching for general terms rather than a specific, mis-understood term.

Google isn’t the first to get into free 411 services—AT&T already offers its 1-800-YellowPages service, and Free 411 has been around for a while, but Google’s growing ubiquity increasingly means businesses are as concerned (or more concerned) with getting their information to Google than they might be about updating local phone directories.

Google hasn’t announced any plans for Goog 411; it may be safe to assume that the company might tie Goog 411 into the company’s advertising machine if it proves successful.

Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Mobile

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.
Deals

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods might be new and improved, but they aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, with attractive features. These are the best AirPod alternatives on the market today.
Mobile

The latest Google Doodle lets you create Bach-like music of your own

Google is celebrating the life of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and to that end the company has released a new Google Doodle that allows you to create Bach-like melodies and harmonies of your own.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Mobile

Amazon’s new Kindle has an adjustable light and costs less than $100

Amazon has taken the wraps off of a new Kindle model, which boasts a number of great features and comes at a very affordable price. Perhaps the best thing about the new Kindle is that the device has an adjustable.
Mobile

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad (2018): Which Apple tablet is right for you?

The new iPad Air replaces the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but it doesn't pack quite the same punch. It is a fair bit cheaper, starting at $500, but it's a lot more expensive than Apple's 9.7-inch iPad which starts at $330. If you're shopping for…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger adds quoted replies to better organize group chats

Facebook is rolling out a feature that should help make group chats a whole lot more organized. The feature allows you to reply to specific messages within a group chat, so others will be able to tell what you're replying to.
Mobile

The 2018 iPad is often the best iPad for most people — and now it’s only $250

Apple may have recently taken the wraps off of a new iPad Air and iPad Mini, but it's still the standard iPad that is best for most people. Now, the standard iPad has gotten a pretty significant discount -- it's down from $330 to $250.
Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.
Photography

Looking to keep prying eyes at bay? Here's how to hide photos on your iPhone

People take tons of photos using their smartphones, but not all are meant to be shared or seen. Luckily, hiding photos on your iOS device is easy, whether you want to use built-in utilities or apps with added security.