In August last year, Google launched its voice search feature for both Android and iOS around the world. Today, Google personalizes this feature even more as it launches Voice Search for the Filipino language. It aims to allow Filipino speakers to speak their queries to Google on their smartphones, helping them find information more quickly and efficiently.
The Filipino Voice Search is activated for all Android mobile devices running Android 2.0 or higher in Google Now, which is the voice assistant in the Google Search app. To access the feature, users have to set the default language under settings to Filipino or Tagalog. Then, by tapping the microphone icon on the Google search bar, users can speak in Filipino and search results will appear. I tried this, and it worked well. (See: picture on the right where I said “how to cook spaghetti” in Filipino)
Gail Tan, head of public affairs and communications at Google Philippines, says this is part of its commitment to Filipinos to continually improve their search experience.
Working on accents
When Google brings a new language feature to its Voice Search, it teaches computers to understand the sounds and words that make up a spoken language. And for this specific voice functionality, the major challenge is the various accents in different regions of the country. Google worked on this by getting volunteer students from the University of the Philippines, one of the biggest universities in the nation. And by working with them on sampling voices and accents, it ensured that the functionality could predict pronunciations for English words that were mixed with Tagalog terms.
Google says Voice Search can already recognize different regional accents in Filipino, but admits that it isn’t 100 percent perfect as of yet. But the company explains that the language model will improve as more people use this feature.
This same feature will also be available soon for iOS via the Google Search App, and in desktops and laptops through Google Chrome.
(Editing by: Steven Millward)