I love the idea behind Google Voice, and appreciate the rich set of features, but transcription frustrates me. Sometimes the transcription feature is relatively useful, but more often than not the resulting text can be very odd. Here’s a couple examples:
I work to get rid of the quest secret given some Democrats are out in Los Angeles… I just put in an extra character deflator so if it’s confidential that I have an extra C and then not all.
What ever you do, don’t let the Democrats in LA get the quest secret. Use a character deflator if you need to.
I am with Thomases old breast and Shauna said she’d been worked with you.
Sounds a little personal to me, and I never even met Shauna.Both of these messages were left by people who spoke English, had no accent, and sounded clear when listening to message. In all fairness these are extreme examples, but much of the time the transcriptions are of little use. What really frustrates me, is that one of the primary purposes of Google 411 was to harvest terabytes of voice data and improve voice recognition technology. In an Infoworld interview nearly 2 years ago Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Search Products & User Experience said (emphasis mine):
Whether or not free-411 is a profitable business unto itself is yet to be seen. I myself am somewhat skeptical. The reason we really did it is because we need to build a great speech-to-text model.
Presumably, this “great speech-to-text model” is behind the transcription feature.Google Voice is a newer service, but Google acquired Grand Central two years ago, and this is the best they can do? Admittedly I am complaining about a free service, but come on! I am a huge fan of Google’s many services and frankly have become a little spoiled by some of their other offerings that are so very good. Voice mail transcription done well would be an incredibly useful productivity tool, and hopefully Google improves transcription quality in the near future. In the mean time, Transcription useful? No! I invite you to share some of your most useless Google Voice transcriptions in the comments.