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Goog-411 finds way to Canada


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Goog-411 finds way to Canada

Globe and Mail Update

June 20, 2008 at 3:01 PM EDT

Don't know where to find the closest pizza parlour? No access to a computer or a phone book?

Just call Google. Let them figure it out.

Today Google Inc. launched a Canadian version of its voice-recognition local search phone service GOOG-411. Canada becomes the first country outside the U.S. to gain access to the service.

Google has built an empire by helping people find their way through the tangled brush of the Internet -- and supplying tiny ads along the edges of those searches -- but has since branched out to provide tools that help users find directions (Google Maps), view the world in the form of maps or satellite images (Google Earth) and even track the movement of the stars in the sky (Google Sky).

With GOOG-411, users dial a hotline -- 1-800-GOOG-411 -- and respond to the questions posed by the voice-recognizing computer on the other end.

Much like a movie theatre search service, it asks for the user's city and province, then what they are searching for. A request for "pizza" made from the Globe and Mail newsroom in downtown Toronto yielded eight responses, and the service listed the choices and offered addresses for each.

A user can then choose whether to hear the phone number, be connected directly to the business or receive a text message with the details of the restaurant. There is also an option to have a Google Map link sent to the screen of their phone.

Google's engineers have done their best to make the service as Canadian-friendly as possible by incorporating some of the local language ticks.

"Although English is spoken in both the US and Canada, there are enough differences between the way it's spoken in the two countries that we engineered GOOG-411 especially for Canadian English," read a post on the official Google blog.

"We incorporated some Canadianisms such as "eh," "Traw-na," "Cal-gry," and, of course, "aboot."

The service is currently only available in English, but Google said it is working on a French version of the site.

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