Google is improving voice recognition on Android, by relocating a senior U.K. programmer to its California headquarters, in an effort to spearhead the project and catch up to Apple.
Director of Engineering Dave Burke, known as one of Google’s top programmers, will join the Internet giant’s Android engineering center in Mountain View, Calif. Burke came to Google from a Dublin, Ireland speech recognition company and has published numerous academic papers about the topic.
In London, Burke’s team developed many of Google’s top ranked services, including search and maps, and could bring his voice recognition expertise to add value to both those functions.
His move to California comes as Google intensifies its software’s ability to understand more than just simple commands. Android devices already include voice commands for commonly used search terms and translations, but the accuracy is still low.
Advanced voice recognition software is quickly becoming a top ticket item for mobile devices. Apple’s iPhone 4S features “Siri,” an intuitive voice recognition technology the Cupertino, Calif.-based company touts as one of its device’s top improvements.
Voice software, if made intuitive, could give Google’s search functions a big advantage, by allowing users to ask questions that lead to ranked search results instead of needing to use specific commands.
The advanced voice recognition may also lead to growth for Google’s AdSense program, which already dominates the mobile advertising market because of the company’s ability to run ads on all devices across platforms.
Advertisers may clamor to be included once customers can search for specific businesses with voice recognition, which could boost AdSense’s rates even higher especially when combined with search results.
Google, however, may be working on its voice recognition programming a bit too late to compete with the Siri software on the new iPhone 4S, which hits the market next week.
Apple attracts about a third of all advertisers, compared to AdSense’s 50 percent hold on all mobile advertising. However, Apple’s iAds program uses Apple’s apps system to attract customers, and if the new Siri program integrates well with the App Store, advertising revenues could soar with clients who want to attract people using their new iPhones.
Siri may prove a boon for Apple, meaning Google, which does not yet have an advanced voice software system on its Android phones, may have to work fast to make up for lost time.