Situation: Helping my newly married friend buy things from WalMart. He doesn't have a car yet. I'm driving on I-405 south from Bellevue. There's a lot of traffic, especially for a saturday.
Problem: I can't remember which exit to take to get to WalMart. I've been there before, but that was last summer. I remember its in Renton, which is around exit 4, but the surroundings after taking exit 4 dont seem familiar. I would remember if I saw the street the exit leads to.
Solution: Immediately, I think of Goog411. I dial 1-800-GOOG-411. I'm just getting back up on the freeway from exit 4.
"Goog411. Experimental. (pause) Please say the city and state." says the voice on the line.
"Renton, Washington" I say. It recognizes what I said and repeats to confirm.
I'm already loving this.
"Please say the business name or category"
"Walmart", I say. Again it recognizes the name in first try. It comes up in the first result and connects me. I talk to the lady at Wal-Mart and find out they're off of exit 2, thank her and hang up.
I have found out which exit I need to take in such a short time that I have just merged back into the highway from exit 4 and its not even exit 3 yet. Its beautiful. Trust google to take technology and existing way of life to new heights.
For one, The voice recognition on GooG411 is better than any other company's that I've used so far. And I've used it many times already in at least 5 different cities, for different purposes, from locating a car dealership to calling an Indian restaurant. Its recognized names perfectly every time (except that you have to say Indian names in an American accent).
Secondly, they've taken the existing 411 concept, which is expensive and manual and converted it into a free service and automated it. I love it. I only wish the existing 411 services before Google came were not $1.49 per minute. If they were cheaper, like 10¢ a call, I figure more people would have used it. Oh well, Google is here now, to set them straight.
I sincerely hope, for Google and for the humankind, that this service comes out of the experimental stage, here to stay. For those who haven't used it yet, heres a cheat sheet. Go have fun.