Google Inc. unveiled a Korean- language voice-command service for smartphones in an effort to lure more South Koreans to its mobile Web search.
The service allows the use of voice commands for tasks such as sending of text messages and e-mails, the Mountain View, California-based company’s South Korean unit said in a statement today. It’s available for smartphones running on Google’s latest version of the Android operating system, the unit said.
Google expects the number of local users of its mobile search service to increase 20-fold this year, said Ted Cho, the engineering site director for Google Korea, in a teleconference. Use of Google to search the Web on handsets is increasing in South Korea as Android-based phones gain popularity in the nation, where local sites have been dominant.
Korean is the first foreign language offered for the voice- command function and follows the success of Google’s voice- search service in the language, the company said. Voice queries account for 20 percent of traffic on Google’s mobile-phone search service in South Korea, according to the company.
“Korean voice search has been very successful, and accuracy has been great, and people seem to like the service,” Mike Schuster, a Google research scientist, said during the teleconference.
The voice-command service was first introduced in English in August. It will be exclusive to smartphones running on Android 2.2 for now because it is difficult to incorporate the technology in devices using different platforms, such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Schuster said.
Samsung Electronics Co. has sold 1.3 million Android- powered Galaxy S smartphones in South Korea since the handsets went on sale in June, the company said in a separate statement today. The model is the top-selling smartphone in the country, followed by the iPhone, based on figures from mobile operators.
NHN Corp. controls about 65 percent of Web queries in South Korea with its Naver search engine, followed by Daum Communications Corp. with 20 percent, according to Choi Chan Seok, an analyst at KTB Securities.
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