GOOG-411 now has maps

Remember the 411 service 1-800-GOOG-411 that Google launched a few months back! It’s a toll free service in the U.S. that uses speech recognition to search for businesses such as ATMs, grocery stores, gas stations etc. Now, GOOG-411 allows you to say “map it” when the search results are being spoken out to get a SMS message with a link to a map of the results (the map works with mobiles only duh!).

GOOG-411 had some difficulty understanding me (perhaps its just me!), but having worked on Speech Recognition systems, I know that speech recognition still has some ways to go, especially in the presence of background noise.

I found it a little difficult to use as the URL as it wasn’t clickable and it’s difficult to type in the hard-to-remember URL into the web browser. Of course, it wont send an SMS if you call from a landline phones (but it still says “sending map”). Also, one has to input a location of interest to get information on businesses. That would require integrating with the wireless operators positioning service.

Nice but I won’t be using this unless I’m in a real-bad situation. I’ve always had the need for a service like this, but it’s much easier to call my wife at home and ask her to find directions online!

Why Google should purchase Zvents or Eventful

A few days ago, Google Calendar introduced a new feature called Calendar ‘Galley’ that contains a variety of event listings from the likes of Atlantic Records, Cordless Recordings, Disney, Eventful, JamBase, Orbitz, the NBA, Netflix, The New York Times, TLC, Wcities, and Zvents. This makes it easy for one to find an event and add it to the Google calendar. This includes events such as NBA games (hot right now), Netflix DVD rental availability dates, events related to the US 2008 elections, as well as events from eventful and Zvents.

Thomas Claburn in Google Introduces Calendar ‘Galley’ points out that Google characterizes its event listings as “as an incredibly plugged-in friend who helps you remember all the hottest events, or that personal concierge you always dreamed of hiring.” Thomas notes that, according to Hitwise, Google Calendar gets the highest U.S. visitor market share. Also, Google is the leading online calendar, writes Elinor Mills in a rather long-winded Google Calendar colors a CNET reporter’s day.

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Backlash on “Street View” is great publicity for Google Maps

Google maps has a new “Street View” that shows a street-level view of a location. It currently has panoramic views of miles of streets around San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.

These pictures were taken in real-life, so people that were nearby when the camera was passing by are also captured in the photo (pictures are static and are not updated usually). Some of these pictures are damning (see below photo of a man entering an Adult Book Store)

Google Maps Street Views


Continue reading Backlash on “Street View” is great publicity for Google Maps