‘Dragon Go!’ Voice Search for iPhone Is Surprisingly Intelligent

  • Share
  • Read Later

When I tapped the record button, said “Harry Potter tickets,” then tapped “done,” the app—which displayed what I said accurately—threw up a list of Harry Potter movies. Okay, no problem. So what about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two tickets”? The app got everything right save one word: hallows (it means “revered stuff”). Dragon Go! read this as “hollows,” then threw me over to Google, which—since the movie debuts stateside at midnight tonight—automatically corrected the misread and displayed the proper results for my query. One click later (on “use my location”) and I had both theaters and show times at my command. Even Flixster isn’t that fast.

Saying “coffee Ann Arbor Michigan” conjured Yelp, automatically selecting the sort by “best match” tab. And here’s where thing’s got really cool: Saying “best cup of coffee in Ann Arbor Michigan” auto-selected Yelp again, but this time Dragon Go! somehow parsed “best” intelligently enough to auto-select Yelp’s sort by “ratings” tab instead. And saying “closest Taco Bell” auto-selected Yelp’s sort by “distance” tab, using my current GPS-based location to estimate mileage. Will I now use Dragon Go! to find food on a road trip, say the nearest A&W? Heck yes.

“Latest news on budget deficit” translated correctly and brought me to CNN, but alas, CNN’s search engine failed: The top results for “news on budget deficit” were unhelpful links like “CNN Student News” and “Prime News,” both dated October 2009. I had to scroll down to the fourth link before I found a one-day-old story. Accurate as Dragon Go! may be, it’s only as powerful as each content portal’s endpoint technology.

You can sometimes stump it, of course. Saying “Palin versus Bachmann” took me inexplicably back to Yelp, with a “no results found” screen. And sometimes it punts on portal results: I said “play signed, sealed, delivered” and it brought up a bunch of Google search results (links to YouTube videos) instead of sending me to something more appropriate, like last.fm or Pandora (though to be fair, the tabs for these were just a click away).

This isn’t a formal review—I’ve only spent all of 15 minutes monkeying with the app—but it is a strong first-impressions endorsement. With Dragon Go!, Nuance seems to be giving us our first serious look at the on-the-go, anywhere-you-are semantic web, promised almost a decade ago.

MORE: LulzSec Leak Reveals iPhone Apps That Worry Police

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next