According to an article in The New York Times, Google is going to be updating its excellent (and free) Google Mobile app for the iPhone today and the new version will allow voice search for places (Where is the nearest Starbucks?) or through your contacts. This comes on the heels of two good applications that already exist, Say Who and Say Where. Say Who searches through your contacts and lets you bring up a number to call (or auto-dial if you set that switch.) Say Where does the same thing for locations. I currently use both and they both work as advertised, although they occasionally burp up a wrong response.
I’m not sure how this works for the Say Who or Say Where technologically speaking (it may be exactly the same), but in Google’s edition, your voice search will be sent over the network, transcribed in the cloud, and then the results will come back to the phone. It will take advantage of the location based features of the iPhone. The trick here is that you have to hold the phone up to your face to take advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer, which tells the phone to go into listening mode. The two ““SayÃ¢â‚¬Â apps don’t require that.
Here’s the catch. While these apps add great voice capability to the iPhone, until Apple decides to un-cripple BlueTooth on the iPhone and make voice commands available though that technology, you still have to manipulate the results with your hands. When driving, that’s just a big no-no, and in my opinion makes the iPhone not a Hands-Free device. When Apple decides to get with the program (that’s been available on Windows Mobile for some time) and open up BlueTooth, these services will really take off. Until then, they are just good additions to the tool box.