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Hands-on: Yahoo oneSearch 2.0 with voice

A close look at the voice lookup feature for Yahoo's mobile search tool, oneSearch 2.0.

Yahoo oneSearch 2.0 talk screen
Yahoo Inc.

Vioce technology is Yahoo's big news of the day. While vocal search is one aspect of an enhanced version of Yahoo's oneSearch tool for mobile phones, it's the only aspect of the service that has been made available as a preview today. And the implementation has only been rolled out for BlackBerry phones.

Luckily, I happen to have one of those here at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, where I met with Yahoo's director of mobile product marketing, Adam Taggart to discuss oneSearch 2.0 (see video).

Like Yahoo Go 3.0, oneSearch 2.0 opens with a slick interface. The idea is to make vocal input as good as manual input, Taggart said, but to remove the pain points of having to type a search when you could just as easily speak it.

In the cacophonous conference hall, not every request came out clearly, but it's easy to see how this feature will form the basis of hands-free search. Additionally, the recognition technology is adaptive, Taggart explained, interpreting from a range of accents and inflections, and learning your vocal patterns after a few sessions.

Yahoo oneSearch 2.0
CNET Networks

That's not all oneSearch will learn. With a little use, it's also meant to interpret your search patterns, which will help the app return more customized results. The vocal recognition isn't perfect every time, so Yahoo has embedded drop-down boxes to fill in the unclear search terms.

Going forward, phones will also receive relevant proximity-based search results, which will offer suggestions for listings close to your current location. GPS is the most precise, but mass market phones should also be able to take advantage of cell tower triangulation, which is effectively put to use in the My Location feature of the latest iteration of Google Maps. When in doubt, there's always adding your city or zip code manually.

Windows Live Search with voice announced something similar last November at CTIA's fall show in San Francisco. The big difference here, Yahoo emphasizes, is that oneSearch isn't just about dishing out local listings. You can also search for flights, Web sites, zip codes, videos, and so on, by pressing and holding the green talk key for as long as you speak your query. No need to shout or slow your speech. The app works best when you present your normal cadence and tones.

Currently the talk feature of oneSearch 2.0 is available for BlackBerry, with predictive search features and all the rest coming in a few months. Get the link by pointing your BlackBerry browser to

>>Catch the latest news in cell phones and mobile software from CTIA 2008 in Las Vegas.