Thursday, February 5, 2009

Software Review: Say Where! Application for the iPhone

Are you interested in getting directions from your location to another? Are you tired of trying to find the phone number of a Greek restaurant only to have your fat fingers mistype time and time again? If so, then the new Say Where! application from Dial Directions might be the application for you.

Say Where! (direct download link) is an application that allows you to interact with your iPhone in a brand new way. You can get directions from Google Maps, search for businesses on Googleand the Yellow Pages, check out a review on Yelp, and even check out the traffic on can do all of these things simply by saying exactly what you want. The application will decipher your voice, convert it to text, confirm that what is written is what you said, and then apply the proper external application to complete your request. Say Where! does all of this for absolutely nothing. That's right, Say Where! is a free application that is supported entirely by ads.

Say Where! has several nice features that make this application (the first of its kind) the only verbal interface that your iPhone will ever need. The interface is nice and fits perfectly within the iPhone's aura. Not only is the layout smooth and easy to navigate, the current options are also separated by topic and it appears as though they have plans to include more operations and external sites in the future.

The voice recognition in the Say Where! app had a few stumbles, like when I named specific buildings on the Ohio State University Campus it could not usually find the location, but overall it worked exceptionally well when I asked for a specific address or a more common location. In fact, the verbal recognition was much better than any other program I have used on any other phone.

When you search using Say Where! it will decode your voice, convert it, confirm it, and then open the external application or site that is needed and do the searching there. While I understand how hard it would be to create a system where you could run one app inside another, this has always been a big problem for me. I think that Say Where! should perform the search (unseen by us) and then display the results, links, phone numbers, maps, directions, etc. on its own home page. I think that using the same application to search and view the results looks much better and creates a cleaner product.

What I Want To See
I think that Say Where! is a starting application for using verbal recognition and that it is probably all that you will ever need; however, I think that there are some areas that Say Where! needs to work on (or add to) to become the only app of this style that you would ever need. I think that they need to include some more options like Mapquest, White Pages, Rotten Tomato reviews etc. The starting options are nice and cover what you need (right now), but the extra options — be they repetitive (like Mapquest would be) or new (like White Pages) — would allow the application to have some personal flavor and allow more usability.

I would also like the option to save and store common searches so that I need not say them again (or, say, want to find it in Yellow pages and then map to it in Google Maps). By creating a save option the application would become one of the few searching applications that allows you to save. This would make it highly desired by both those who are looking for a voice recognition app AND those who are looking merely for an all-around search app. Having a “Frequently Searched” option just makes it seem much more finished and polished.

The Say Where! application for the iPhone is one of the best applications that I currently have and is one of the most useful. While there are some hiccups with the recognition, and there are a few options lacking, in general the system is good. Overall, the Say Where! application is a must-have for anybody who uses their iPhone for searches or maps often.

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