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Sunday, 10th October 2010

Google Will Soon Disconnect GOOG-411 But Bing-411 Continues With a Large Number of Free Info Services

On November 12, 2010 Google is disconnecting their free directory assistance service for the U.S. and Canada that was launched as a Google Labs project in April, 2007 and graduated in September, 2007. A few months later T.V. Raman a research scientist at Google (he cannot see) pointed out that GOOG-411 was a service that anyone who could speak into a telephone could use.

Now, after four years they are shutting the service down. A blog post from the GOOG-411 team points out that the technology developed for the service is now used with voice search, voice input, and voice actions (Android only as of today).
ervice from Google and helped provide a foundation for more ambitious services now available on smartphones, such as:

From the Blog Post:

Our success encouraged us to aim for more innovation. Thus, we’re putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages.

The post continues and mentions that if you don't have a smartphone (to use a number of Google apps) you can still send a text message with the name and location of a business to 466453 ("GOOGLE") and get the phone number. If you don't use SMS (or have a limited number of texts each month) stay tuned.

The end of GOOG-411 should not be a problem for those who found the service useful. Why?

Bing-411 (1-800-BING-411) remains available and offers many options available with voice-activated commands.

Bing's technology comes from TellMe, a company Microsoft acquired in March 2007. Its phone number is still available and offers the same services as Bing-411. You can access it at 1-800-555-TELL.

Here's a list of the top-level categories of info that Bing-411 provides:

+ Business Listings
+ Driving Directions
+ Stock Quotes
+ Sports
+ Cheap Gas
+ Traffic
+ Movies
+ Horoscopes
+ News
+ Travel
+ Weather
+ Time

To receive this list of categories simply say, "Tell Me My Choices" at anytime during your call.

In many cases, the info Bing-411 offers (for example, movie times) can be sent immediately as a text message. You can also set-up favorite features tied to the phone number you're dialing-in from.

Finally, if you don't mind a couple of 10-15 second advertisements, FREE-411 (1-800-FREE-411) offers both business and residential listings as well as weather and horoscopes.

For more, check out Greg Sterling's post, "GOOG-411 Winds Down, Bing-411 Parties On" and Alex Chitu's, "Google Shuts Down GOOG-411."

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