October 25, 2010

Last Call for GOOG-411

At The Tech Desk, we use lots of Google services. We teach classes in Gmail. Many of us keep track of RSS feeds using Google Reader. We often show people directions using Google Maps, try webpages in Chrome,  and even played around with Google Wave. Sadly though, one of my personal favorite Google services that I rely on constantly is ending next month.On November 12, 2010 Google will discontinue GOOG-411. 

Usable from any phone, GOOG-411 was an excellent alternative to other 411 services. GOOG-411 was completely free. Additionally, just like Google web search, it was incredibly easy to use. After dialing 1-800-GOOG-411,  you were asked to say the business you were looking for and the city and state. After that, GOOG-411 would state the top listing, and offer to directly connect you. There was no need to write the phone number of the business down: you were instantly connected. 

While a free 411 service was appreciated, Google was using voice data supplied to GOOG-411 to develop future products. Garett Rogers reported in 2007 on zdnet.com that GOOG-411 was designed to collect voice samples to help improve Google's speech-to-text software. These technologies have now been implemented in a variety of Google services, as this webpage from Google shows.

While I will miss GOOG-411, there are several great options to help you find information for free. Bing, a search engine by Microsoft, offers BING-411. You can send a text message about a business and location to 46643 ("GOOGLE") and get confirmation via text. Last, and certainly not least, is the Library! Please feel free to call us at 248.524.3538 and we can help you find the information you are looking for.

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