Google made its Voice Search for Android available in 13 new languages, bringing the total to 42 languages and accents in 46 countries, the company said on Friday.
The added languages allow 100 million new speakers to use the service, Google product manager Bertrand Damiba said in a blog post. The added languages are all European and include Basque, Romanian, Bulgarian, Slovak, Finnish, Catalan, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Serbian, Swedish, Norwegian and European Portuguese.
Adding new languages to Voice Search usually requires collecting hundreds of thousands of utterances from volunteers, according to Damiba. Google has been working on speech recognition for years and its experience is that some languages are easier to add to voice search than others.
"While languages like Romanian follow predictable pronunciation rules, others, like Swedish, required that we recruit native speakers to provide us with the pronunciations for thousands of words," Damiba wrote, adding that Google had to build a machine learning system based on that data to predict how all other Swedish words would be pronounced. The more people that use Voice search, the more accurate it becomes, according to Damiba.
Google has already started the roll out of the new languages for Voice Search and said it would continue to do so next week. Android phones running version 2.2 or later have Voice Search built in. Users with an earlier version of Android can install the app from Google Play, Damiba said. Users can only speak one language into the app at a time.