Wednesday, November 19, 2008

British Accents confuse Google iPhone

A new US-developed Google application for the iPhone which allows users to search for information using voice-recognition has hit a stumbling block - it does not understand British accents.

The high-tech programme, which was launched this week with much fanfare, allows users to search Google for cinema times, bring up pictures and information and convert currency and measurements with one tap of the screen. iPhones owners can download it for free, and if popular, it could be extended to other mobile phones. But British iPhone owners who eagerly downloaded the new software to their phones were left baffled after it responded to requests with bizarre titbits of unwanted information.

When asked to search for "iPhone" the results varied wildly. A user with a Scottish accent found his phone opted to search for the term "sex" instead, and suggested a link to an adult web site. On a second attempt, the search engine looked for "sledding". Asked in a Kentish accent to search for "iPhone", it came up with "my sister" and "Einstein", while a Surrey user was offered "myspace" as well as "Einstein". A Yorkshireman was offered "bonfire" before managing to get "iPhone" - the only time the voice-recognition worked. The most unusual responses were to a Welsh accent, when the device interpreted "iPhone" as "gorillas" and "kitchen sink".

Google points out on its website that the application is "currently available only in US English".

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