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Google gives Voice Search a multi-lingual boost

17 Aug 2012
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Google has increased the number of languages supported by its Voice Search application by 13.

The update, that is rolling out now, adds Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, European Portuguese, Finnish, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak and Swedish to the Google roster, bringing its supported languages up to more than 40.

Users running Android 2.2 and above can voice search by tapping the microphone icon on the homescreen's Google search widget. On older versions, users need to install the dedicated Voice Search app from the Google Play store.

Bertrand Damiba, a Google product manager, said that while some languages, for example Romanian, have "predictable pronunciation rules", others are less straightforward, like Swedish.

To make the Voice Search feature available in these difficult languages the firm had to recruit native speakers to help it with the pronunciation of "thousands of words".

"Our scientists then built a machine learning system based on that data to predict how all other Swedish words would be pronounced," Damiba said, adding that the more people who use the service the better it will become.

Google noted that users can only speak one language for each search, and may need to change their main language settings to use one of the new additions.

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Dave Neal

Dave Neal is a reporter at The INQUIRER. Previously he worked at, VNUnet, and IT Week in editor and journalist roles.

He started his career when the Y2K bug was a front page story and remains committed to covering the interesting world of technology news.

He left the world of office working four years ago and now represents The INQUIRER from home in Kent with his dog.

Dave has been quoted in papers including the London Metro.

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