An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to gostips@gmail.com.

October 9, 2010

Google Shuts Down GOOG-411

Google announced that GOOG-411, the free directory assistance service launched in 2007, will be discontinued next month. GOOG-411 is available in the US and Canada, where it was launched as a free alternative to the expensive services provided by telephone companies.

The service has helped Google build a large database of voice samples and improved the voice recognition technology. Here's what Google's Marissa Mayer said about GOOG-411:

"The speech recognition experts that we have say: If you want us to build a really robust speech model, we need a lot of phonemes, which is a syllable as spoken by a particular voice with a particular intonation. So we need a lot of people talking, saying things so that we can ultimately train off of that. ... So 1-800-GOOG-411 is about that: Getting a bunch of different speech samples so that when you call up or we're trying to get the voice out of video, we can do it with high accuracy."


2007 was also the year when iPhone and Android were launched. Smartphones turned out to be better suited for voice-powered search because the service was easier to use and it could integrate with the phone. Google launched a mobile voice search app for iPhone in 2008, a built-in search app for Android in 2009, followed by voice input and voice actions this year. The mobile Google Maps app for Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile added support for voice search, which now works in more than 10 languages.

Google no longer focused on GOOG-411 and decided to discontinue the service. "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," explained Google.

A good alternative to GOOG-411 is BING-411 (1-800-BING-411), Microsoft's service that gives you turn-by-turn driving directions, traffic conditions, and weather reports. The service is only available in the US.

Here's one of my favorite Google promotional videos:


{ Thanks, Bill. }

74 comments:

  1. Sad to see this getting shut down.

    While I didn't use the service extensively, I did use it every once in a while. It definitely had a 'cool' factor that made the geek in me feel awesome :)

    I guess the next logical place to see this getting applied would be in Android or other such device based interfaces. Will see what the future brings.

    This may also have something to do with 1-800-JUSTDIAL which got launched recently, with their human operators standing by, they did leave me feeling more confident that I would find what I wanted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too had a great experience with a live operator. 1-800-500-0000 is the number I called asked for a restaurant and yippee the operator quickly dished out the info. Inquisitively, I asked for a movie hall as well and got a prompt response. Heard it is a service by Just Dial, one of the world's leading local search service. I guess i'm hooked onto it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Please don't take it down! :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. We use Google411 almost every day, as do many of our friends & family. PLEASE reverse your decision & keep it going for those of us with traditional cell phones.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very sad to see this come to an end. We used this service a lot and was extremely handy. Although I agree with Google's focus on smartphones and voice stuff, Google 411 offered something that you could search and access phone numbers and addresses while driving. This is something you really cannot do on your smartphone while driving.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dont take it down, its awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  7. We need to start a SAV-GOOG-411 campaign!

    ReplyDelete
  8. We used the service extensively as well. As alternatives, we will use the GOOGLE text service (send the city and state and the business name and receive a text reply), and the 800-BING-411. Thanks to the one suggesting 800-JUSTDIAL as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What if Google billed our query
    2-cents/call; half going to charity (e.g. Haiti Relief), 1/4 to (?) and 1/4 to Google?

    I'm sure the 411-calls number in the millions.

    I can't see anything approaching the hands-free, PDA-less ease of Goog411 while driving. And I use it on my Verizon land-line as well. M's posting was right-on!

    Heh Google, do you read these? Save Goog411.

    Bill
    wpaladin@pipeline.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. https://go800corp.com
    TEXT TO CONNECT. TRY TEXTING HELLO TO GO800 FOR MORE INFO. CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE ABOVE TO LEARN MORE. THIS IS DEFINITELY EASIER TO USE THAN GOOGLE 411.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I didn't even realize this was happening until
    I used it recently and heard the message at the beginning say it was going away as of Nov 6th which is a terrible time to disconnect the service it's when I use it the most (calling various stores and such during the holidays mostly black Friday)plus to add insult to injury they are giving it to the smartphone crowd which I am not in nor will I be joining anytime soon
    (hell I use a prepaid phone that I bought for $10 and enjoy very much or did until now anyway)
    I guess this is/was inevitable but it still hurts to loose this valuable service.
    R.I.P GOOG-411 gonna miss you buddy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Please make sure the android app is at least as robust is this. And thanks for goog 411 its been awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is a very nice content, I'll try to use it myself. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So sorry to see it go.use it a lot of the time...have a droid and with voice it was the best thing..change yr mind please......

    ReplyDelete
  15. Please don't do this!!! How many people do you want texting ANYTHING while they are driving. This was the best, safest way to get connected to businesses ever.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think it is better to shutdown ! Google done it.

    Regards |Madav

    ReplyDelete
  17. I use GOOG411 quite a bit, it's speed dial #4 in my dumb phone. I guess I have to switch to Bing now.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ouch! I just tried BING-411... I can't stand the voice!

    ReplyDelete
  19. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! GOOG411 IS MY FAVORITE! I've recommended it to everyone I know since 2007!

    PLEASE SAVE GOOG-411!!!!


    Google -
    How many petitions do we need to save this awesome free service???

    ReplyDelete
  20. I too am very disappointed with Google's decision on 411. It is so convenient to just dial in and ask for a business when I am away from home. 800 FREE 411 might be an option, but it plays commercial spots while one waits for the number. I haven't used it in quite a while, so I've forgotten the particulars.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is bad. I've come to rely on goog 411. I use it all the time. I don't want to do a web search while driving, and this is the fastest, easiest way to do it. Please keep Goog 411 service up Google!

    ReplyDelete
  22. NOOOOOOOO I<3 goog411. Why google why!!!! This is the best way to find anything on the go. Please don't shut it down!

    ReplyDelete
  23. in soviet russia, google 411 shuts YOU down.

    ReplyDelete
  24. And yet another great service is going to shut down, because of lousy marketing department in Google! The big problem with Google is that they don't know how to market their great technologies and make money out of them. In this case their objection is that since they developed native apps for smartphones they don't see any advantage in Goog-411 and therefore they won’t continue the service. I guess they should look into numbers, even in US the majority of people still use regular phones rather than Smart phones. So this is not a good excuse to abandon this great service.
    Whit this attitude, Google is going to lose its customers, especially now that they step into Enterprise with their Google Apps. With this attitude, there is no guaranty for businesses to switch to Google and layout their needs on Google Services, because Google might withdraw those services with or without any reasons. i.e. Just in May, 2010 @Google IO they announced that they are opening Google Waves for Apps' users and couple months later they retired Wave! It's hard to trust on experimental technologies, and that is why Google hasn't been able to make money on most of its products except the search.

    Google! Please change this attitude!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I used Goog411 extensively, told many friends and relatives about it. I particularly liked using "I'll connect you," which avoided both the danger/hassle of noting and dialing the number AND the use of phone plan minutes, being an 800 #. I do not text, and Bing uses texting, also 800JUSTDIAL/8005000000 have live operators, but do not make the connection, sadly.
    BRING BACK GOOG411!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I use this almost daily, and am so sorry to see this go. I turned a bunch of friends onto it, and they use it too. I like that it works the majority of the time. Not all of us use cell phones to surf the web or send text messages, so this was a godsend. Not to mention its more safe. Google, what are you thinking??? Do good. Keep the service!

    ReplyDelete
  27. THIS IS A GREAT SERVICE EVERY TIME THERE IS SOMETHING WORKING GOOD THEY HAVE TO SHUT IT DOWN,WHERE ASKING BEGGING ,PLEAING WITH YOU TO KEEP IT GOING, IF SOME ONE NEEDS TO START A PETITION GOING TO PLEASE KEEP IT GOING,THIS IS THE SAFES THING TO HAVE ,WHEN ON THE ROAD .

    ReplyDelete
  28. Goog411 was a community service. It is a necessity for people without smart phones. Google should rethink its removal in light of its "Create No Evil" motto. Taking away Goog411 creates a big negative hole in many people's lives, and I think it's an evil, call it GOOF411.

    ReplyDelete
  29. goog 4111 is a life saver. PLease don't stop

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is how I interpret Google's actions: "We got what we wanted from you, so we are discontinuing the service you love so much because we no longer need you. We already got what we wanted from you." Do no evil? Ya, right. Those three words from Google have repeatedly been nothing but lip service. Google's message to us is clear: "Do not depend on Google for anything, because we will ditch you as soon as we no longer need your data."

    ReplyDelete
  31. SHAME ON YOU,GOOGLE!!!! Like 95% of Americans, I don't have a smart-ass phone, I don't need one, and I don't want one. I don't text, either. Resuscitate Goog411!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Well it looks like everyone before pretty much summed it up, bad move,,we all vote with our wallets, another college educated marketing pro that can't smell the real world until revenue drops then they will do a survey to figure out why, ya think we don't know the related companies here?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Very sad to see a much needed service shut down.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I was stunned to hear when I used Goog411 recently that it was going away. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Why take away an awesome, much appreciated service that gets so much positive press for Google? Very very disappointed!

    ReplyDelete
  35. i was using 411 from my cell company and then i found this one for free let keep this cause i cant afford to pay att $2.50 a call to find a number when im on the road thanks

    ReplyDelete
  36. Tried Bing get 2 text messages for phone #'s I did not need plus they could not understand my voice recognition for a local tire company. Never had any problem with GOOG 411. Why shut it down Google, can you not see it is a great service for thousands or maybe millions of people.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Not all of us can afford a smart phone or have the need for a phone with all the bells and whistles. You did such a great job. Guess the segment of the population that is not smart phone connected will just miss out . . . Once again, its the haves and have nots . . . . . Bummer

    ReplyDelete
  38. Goog411 saves lives.......literally! Do businesses always have to to with the bottom line while the masses suffer? Are there no more "do it for the good of the people" left out there??? Come on Google.........do what's right.

    ReplyDelete
  39. nooo please dont take it down i use it almost every day it has truly been a huge help

    ReplyDelete
  40. not thrilled about this, but using another service is the lesser of 2 evils, 1st being a $2.50 charge for info from my phone company. I'm sure some SMART competitor will respond to the "little people" and offer an even BETTER service.

    ReplyDelete
  41. please keep goog411!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  42. My whole family uses Goog411, including myself all the time, and I am the only one with a smartphone. This will be sorely missed, I with they would reconsider. I remember there used to be an option in google voice that had directory assistance using google voice. I guess they took that option away because they new ahead of time of the cancellation.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Probably the number one reason why they shut this service down, and no one has even thought about mentioning it, is liability. If someone used GOOG411 to make connections to drug dealers, third parties, terrorists, etc, Google might be found liable. Or possibly, criminals could use disposable phones and GOOG411 to connect phone calls, making them harder to trace. Routing phone calls for others? There are too many risks for Google corporate: it's just easier to shut it down and force people back to the web.

    ReplyDelete
  44. alternative guyyyyyysssssss 1800-500-0000 humans answering and free call connect ..very easy to use...try it once its better than bing 411..

    ReplyDelete
  45. 1800-500-0000 alternative to GOOG411

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thanks for the JustDial alternative--just tried it, and they not only connected me, they sent me a text message of the address and phone number of the place!

    By the way, the one that works is 1-800-500-0000, not 1-800-JUSTDIAL.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Well, I'm REALLY disappointed. I haven't used it for a few months because it doesn't work from payphones here (Mpls). I just tried tonight & heard it was shutting down. I used it when I was in Phx & Bham. It did work from a payphone in Phx for awhile but then it stopped. When I left Bham, it was working from payphones. I thought it was WONDERFUL. I don't have any phone service so it was neat to call businesses like this. I guess all good things must end.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Oh, I forgot to say, Thank You for all the times I DID get to use it.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Try GO800 text keyword to connect. Try text "HELLO" to GO800 (46800) and see what happens. Or text Pizza, Chase, Lowes, Walmart etc...you will get connected in seconds. It's FREE and it WORKS, TRY IT NOW!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Use 1800 500 0000 alternative of Goog411 its a awesome service try it you'll be addicted for sure

    ReplyDelete
  51. I really wish you would reconsider. Goog411 was immensely helpful for us and, from the looks of it, helpful for you too. Why don't we keep the symbiotic relationship going?

    Seriously, it can't take that much to run this simple service.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm not only disappointed that Google has pulled the plug on GOOG 411 - I'm alo disturbed that they've been stockpiling our recorded voices for their own use. It's one thing to claim that you're recording and/or monitoring calls for quality control/customer service purposes... it's something decidedly different when you're preserving these recordings in your database.

    As for 800 JustDial; they're located (or at least they originated)in India. I'm not exactly thrilled with the thought of having my searches (and probably my voice) on a foreign database, too.

    GOOOOOOG....you done us wrong.

    Nan, Chicago.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi, 1800GOOG411 was an innovative idea from Google and it's sad to see that it dint work out. Mostly, I think the reason it did not work out was because too many things were automated. Recently I heard of Justdial, a 24 x 7 operator assisted toll free concierge service. I dialed 1800-500-0000 to try the service and was amazed when a human voice answered my query within 60 seconds. Justdial really delivered what they promised.

    ReplyDelete
  54. This really upsets me...cause i dont have one of those smart phones to use the google app. And i tryed to use bing but it took to long..i think its unfair to shut it down!!! :( i used it all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Google ignored the old adage that says: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
    What kind of a fix is this???

    Yes, there are people in this world who can screw up an anvil!!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks for the memories Goog - you were, like a good friend, always there - even if you had a hard time understanding my requests.

    gb

    ReplyDelete
  57. I will miss you goog411! You were my best friend when I was lost in Los Angeles and Seattle. You saved my life more than once and I cannot thank you enough! Just what do I do now, please tell me, what number can I dial now that offers such a great service fr free? Google, you huge corporation that can afford to keep this service running forever, please bring it back! Why in all your mightyness* would you decide to stop the service? You are missed greatly by everyone I know. I have such fond memories of being in the middle of nowhere, lost, hungry and tired only to have goog411 help me find the way to food, a place to rest and a nice cup of coffee. Gah you suck google. :(

    ReplyDelete
  58. I just called BING-411 and they have this ridiculous long message about all the features before letting you say the city-state-business name which were the first things you got asked in GOOG411. Oh well, I guess its good enough for a free service.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I loved goog 411,We will miss it thats 4 sure...so now where should we go???

    ReplyDelete
  60. One very sad man...November 19, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    What is this world coming to? I'm so sad, it was on my speed dial. I riled upon GOOG 411. I will shed one-thousand tears every year on November 12th for the rest of my life.
    Google, I will forever mourn...

    ReplyDelete
  61. I loved goog 411 but the damn thing kept on asking me over and over again what I wanted. when it did give me something it was completely wrong. Which pissed me off! So i would yell and curse at it and then i would get something!!! But I did like it though. I just hated when it told me I was wrong and 'glitched on me.' i wish it back!!!!!! PLEASE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  62. I used it a lot. I can't believe it gone. What a shame. :(

    ReplyDelete
  63. I loved goog 411, did not use it a lot but when I did, I was in a pickle and they gave me the help I really needed! Thank you so much goog 411!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Sorry to see this service end. Shared this No. with so many people. I did not use all the time, however, when I needed it I knew it was there. Thanks for the help.

    ReplyDelete
  65. goog 411 is amazing please keep it

    ReplyDelete
  66. I have used GOOG411 a ton, even while sitting on a motorcycle with a BT headset in my helmet. Even pulling over, texting is still impractical with gloves. So, Bing offers a similar service, huh? I guess I should start checking out what they offer.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Google listen to all of the Above. I used goog 411 dozens of times a week, and told everyone I know about it. I hate free 411 and their voice recognition is terrible. They also do dumb things like asking if something is right and if you say right it re-asks until you say yes, then you have to remember the # or write it down while driving. Very dangerous. I use Picasa extensivly, Google Chrome, Google search, Panaramino, google maps and earth. please bring back Goog 411.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I also loved Google 411. It was so easy to get phone numbers and find businesses. I feel like I really spend my $$ at a lot of local places because of it. Not everyone can get a smart phone.

    ReplyDelete
  69. When i go to the "Goog-411" site, It got shut down, So will you turn it back on?

    ReplyDelete
  70. I have been using a toll-free service on 1800-500-0000 by Justdial. They answer your calls in just one ring, and your queries in 60 seconds. I am completely amazed by this human-assisted service.

    ReplyDelete
  71. I'm disappointed that Goog-411 has been taken down. I purposely use a GSM-only frequency on my cell phone and blocked the web access. So, Goog-411 was very helpful.

    On to new horizons as many folks above suggest 1-800-500-0000 by JustDial.

    ReplyDelete