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!