If there was any doubt that mobile and the cloud will eventually converge, Google is putting it to rest. At an event in San Francisco today, the company showed off two applications that leverage Google’s back-end infrastructure and its Android OS to bring a powerful new mobile user experience. The two apps are Voice Actions and Chrome2Phone.
Chrome2Phone is an application that allows you to sync content (clips and videos, for example) between your desktop browser and your mobile device, much like Mozilla’s Home application allows you to take your Firefox browsing history and bookmarks on an iPhone.
Voice Search for Android is an app that is Google’s answer to Siri, an artificial intelligence application maker that was acquired by Apple for a reported $200 million. It’s a voice-to-mobile interface that allows you do perform about 12 actions including search, text messaging, looking up music online and playing it back using your favorite service, writing emails, looking up locations, and placing calls to those locations.
Hugo Barra, Google director of product management, said at the event that nearly 25 percent of folks who use Android 2.0 (and higher) use voice search. “It is much higher than we expected and it is pretty astounding,” he said. In addition to voice search, Google is adding voice capabilities to the Android Keyboard.
According to Google executives, Google voice search has about 70 percent accuracy. They said it is much easier to offer instructions than to transcribe voice mails in Google Voice (which can at times be comically inaccurate).
Google’s Voice Actions (which is for Android 2.2 only) joins a series of cloud-based mobile applications launched by the search company. Others include Google Navigation and Goggles. Barra explained that when you add 4G speeds to a 10,000-server data cluster, what you end up with is a mini-computer in your pocket.
Barra said that sub-second latency on the mobile brings a whole new responsiveness, and with it, a massive discontinuity. “It will change the way we write mobile software. Near-infinite mobile (computing) capability wasn’t possible a few years ago,” he said. “Computing happens in the cloud and the data comes back to the device.”
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