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I couldn't resist testing Google's new Google Voice Local Search (GVLS), although it doesn't involve either booting up my PC or connecting to the Internet. As a result, it feels a bit strange, since Google is a name one normally associates with bits and bytes.
GVLS is a new free phone information service, currently only for business listings, that offers an alternative to the phone companies' not-free 411 services. You call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and according to Google, if the business is part of the Google Maps database, you should be able to get connected.
It's an interesting experience. When you call, you get a cheery male voice that announces "GOOG-411 Experimental," and asks you for your city and state. Once, that's been established, you're invited to tell it either a business name or category. If there's only a single listing available, it offers to connect you; if more than one, you get a numbered list to choose from.
Google Voice Local Search [informationweek.com]
They really ought to add a "Is this correct?" option instead of making you call back when they guess wrong. I doubt I'll be using this much for awhile.
Another thing is finding the location - it says "Please say local zip code or intersection" - I was trying to find something next to "Ventura Bulvard and Woodman Avenue" - so I've said "Ventr 'an Woodmn" - that was recognized...