Google quietly launches "Voice Local Search"

Google has experimentally launched a new directory assistance service that makes use of voice recognition for traditional 411 services. The news is of particular interest given the timing: Google rival Microsoft recently acquired voice-enabled search firm TellMe Networks for $800 million. In order to use the new Google service, just call 1-800-GOOG-411 from any phone. Once connected, a user can say the name of a business or use a keyword. Once the listing is found, users will be connected free of charge to that business. Users can also have the details sent to their mobile via SMS by saying "text message" into the phone. These voice-enabled local search services could one day pose a serious threat to the budding mobile search opportunity.

After a few tries, the service was unable to recognize "FierceMarkets," the parent company of FierceWireless, by name. It kept coming back as either "Sears" or "Pearce Market." A colleague had similar difficulty when trying to find a pizza joint--it kept coming back "skiing."

For more on the new Google service:
- check out the GVLS site