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Google Switches On Maps Navigation, Voice Search For More Countries

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Google Maps Navigation for Android now works outside the US or UK as the free turn-by-turn navigation system has been switched on for users in Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium (update: and Portugal).

In addition, Google Search by voice is now available for French, German, Italian, and Spanish speakers. English, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese were already supported.

Google also detailed how it goes about adding new languages for Voice Search:

Our goal is to bring Google Search by voice to speakers of all languages. We follow a rigorous process to add each new language or dialect. Working directly with native speakers in each country, we spend weeks collecting spoken utterances to create the specific models which power the service.

Our helpers are asked to read popular queries in their native tongue, in a variety of acoustic conditions such as in restaurants, out on busy streets, and inside cars. We also construct, for each language, a vocabulary of over one million recognizable words. It’s no small feat, but we love doing it.

A side-effect of this approach, Google says, is that if you’re a Spanish speaker in Mexico you may find that the service doesn’t work as advertised because of the difference in accents.

Voice Search works on the iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia S60 devices. Obviously, it also works on Android devices, although you best check the blog post announcing the addition of the newly supported languages to know how you can active it. Also, the application is only available in the Android Markets for France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Google Maps Navigation is available in version 4.2 of Google Maps, on Android devices 1.6 and higher.

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