Following Vodafone’s (NYSE: VOD) Arun Sarin, Yahoo’s EVP of Connected Life Marco Boerries came on stage to tell the audience about its various mobile phone products. As part of his presentation, he launched OneSearch 2.0. Releases.
OneSearch is Yahoo’s mobile search application that it launched 13 months ago. Since then, it has signed deals with 29 carriers, and therefore it’s accessible to 600 million subscribers, who are now under contract. That includes recently winning the T-Mobile contact in Europe away from Google (NSDQ: GOOG). “No one has never amassed that kind of distribution under that short period of time,” he said.
OneSearch 2.0’s new features:
— OneSearch is being opened up to all publishers and content owners so they can write rich metadata that will be returned as part of results, rather than just a link, similarly to Yahoo’s Monkey service for the Internet.
— Search Assist: The search box will predict what you are typing.
— Voice input: Users can search by speaking into the device instead of typing.
— The search box will be integrated into the home screen of the phones.
In demonstrations on stage, they searched for a person, getting results on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Wikipedia results, in addition to celebrity pages. When searching by voice, they asked for a flight to find out if it was on time; they searched an address to get a map and for “march madness” to get game results. One question was: “Where is the best place to play craps in Vegas?” The answer appeared, coming from Yahoo Answers service. All of the trials worked well, and provided answers, not links.
OneSearch will start to roll out this summer through Yahoo’s partners. A trial can be downloaded here: m.yahoo.com/voice on BlackBerries.
UPDATE: The voice technology being added to OneSearch is being provided by vlingo, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company, that also announced today that it raised $20 million in venture capital, led by Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Our post on that announcement is here. I just downloaded the application to my Blackberry, there was an error for the first time, so after re-installing it, it works. I ran into the vlingo folks in the hall, and so they told me more about the service. The speech recognition gets better as the service is used more. CEO Dave Grannan said if there’s an error made in a search, a user can scroll over the words and a drop down box of options appears to correct it. He demonstrated by searching for: “Blow Fish Sushi To Die For in San Francisco.” The first time he ever did it, die was spelled dye. When I tested it on my device, it recognized it the first time. In addition, the individual device also will tune to your own voice as you use it to account for accents.