Jake Turcotte

Google's mobile voice search: Can you hear me now?

Eager downloaders hoping to catch an earful of Google searches on their iPhones this weekend heard nothing but crickets.

A media storm heralded the coming of an application that would translate search terms spoken into iPhones on the fly and return results in seconds, but launch day, Friday, came and went without so much as a whimper out of Mountain View. Tech watchers feared the worst – that Apple's now-famous application approval process had somehow snared the program.

But patience prevailed, and users the world over can now download the slick little app. What are people saying? Plenty.

Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch warns about background noise and reminds that address book contacts aren't voice-searchable.

Macworld UK had trouble getting the application to play nice with British accents (despite demonstrations in one of Google's promotional videos).

• Staffers at CNET's iPhone Atlas discovered that speaking search requests may even be faster than typing them out.

• And the folks at Fortune had a little fun asking Google questions about the program's delay.

My tests found the voice recognition to be surprisingly accurate, except when it came to names (I'm now "Andrew training" and coworker Casey Bayer is "the bear") and complex phrases (it turned "Argyropelecus hemigymnus" into "harder apologizes," but how often are people searching for the Half-naked Hatchetfish, anyway?)

Also cool is that the application is location-aware, so my search for "movie times" automatically returned results for Boston. Same deal with a verbal Google Maps search I performed. The name of a small burrito chain turned up a list of locations, sorted by distance from my location in the Back Bay.

Those interested in downloading the free program can click here [iTunes] or search for Google Mobile App in the iPhone's application store.

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