Monday, December 5, 2011

Voice Search arrives in the Middle East

Today, we are very pleased to announce the launch of Voice Search in Arabic and Hebrew for Android and iPhone users.

Users in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, UAE, and Israel can now speak Arabic and Hebrew into their phones to get search results quickly and easily. With this launch, Voice Search is now supported in 29 languages and accents in 37 countries.

When building support for Arabic and Hebrew into our language model we faced some unique challenges, including how to understand words with diacritics (accents that indicate a difference in pronunciation, a linguistic phenomenon called “Nikud” in Hebrew, and “Tashkil” in Arabic) and words appended with other words (“and” for example) that can have many different nuanced meanings.

To train our system we collected over one million utterances in Arabic and Hebrew, using the languages as they are spoken in the more populated parts of each country. For Arabic, we trained the system to recognize Gulf, Levant and Egyptian dialects. While initially we may not accurately recognize words spoken in every regional accent and dialect, one of the major benefits to Google’s cloud-based model is that the more people use Voice Search, the more accurate it becomes.

How you get started with Google Voice Search depends on what kind of phone you have. If your phone runs Android 2.2 or later, and you see the microphone icon on the Google Search widget on your homescreen, all you have to do is tap the icon to start a voice-powered search. Otherwise, you can install the Voice Search app from Android Market. Note that you can only speak one language into the app at any time and that you may need to change your language setting first.

To get Google Search App for iPhone, search for ‘Google Search App’ in the App Store or follow this link. If you already have Google Search App installed, you can enable voice search by selecting the new languages from the settings panel within the app.

Posted by Bertrand Damiba, Product Manager


  1. very good news :)

    1. I can't find where and how to select a language for the search (Android 2.3.5).
    2. On the Android market, I was told that the software is incompatible with my country, since only English is being supported.

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  3. Thank you google, that's an excellent step.

    Dear Amir, just click on the voice search button, when the "say something" screen appears press on the "Settings" hard button on your phone and change the language from there.

    I still have issues regarding the commands, where do I find the commands list?


  4. what are the keywords in hebrew for Dialing/Texting/Navigating ?

  5. Thanks for the advise, but neither Hebrew nor Arabic, are available on the languages list.

  6. Strange,
    I am using my HTC Desire with Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) and it is working fine here.

    * By fine I mean:
    - Arabic for several countries was available in the language list.
    - I selected "Arabic - Jordan".
    - When activating the voice search, the notification shows in Arabic.
    - I tried different 'search for' commands and it did understand me (almost) when I used the official Arabic or my Jordanian accent.
    - Didn't know how to play music or find a place or other than search the web commands :S.

    Good luck :)

  7. The Android Voice Search application is still not available for download for Israel. Please fix that.

  8. I just installed voice search,
    (Ironically I had to use "market enabler" in order to do that...)
    - but the new languages are not available in the voice input/output settings

  9. HI, I have 2 devices - Android with 2.3 version and iPhone with iOS 5. I couldn't find the Hebrew settings on either of them, what am I doing wrong and how do I fix it? Thanks!

  10. Hi, I succeeded in downloading the search (needed market enabler :-() I have N1 with Android 2.3.7. - The Hebrew search seems to work really fine, but how can I make it call or text a contact person?

  11. @Amir, restart your phone and after it loads, long press the search key and you will be notified that Hebrew is available in your location and then select Hebrew from languages.

    this is what I did on my 2.2.1 android.

  12. Managed to update the voice search app using market enabler but still no hebrew


  13. by the way I've managed to search in Hebrew but not to make voice commands like "call". I think for now only search in Hebrew in available.

  14. reboot my android seems to fix it
    works great!

  15. How do i get it to work on my galaxy s 1...i updated the app on the market and i still dont see the option...

  16. i dont have hebrew in the list
    iphone 4

  17. *Nice, Thank you Google, we wants to be able to switch between speaking languages so easily. For instance, once the voice search box appear we can swipe right or left to choose the language.*
    Thank you

  18. I also don't see Hebrew on the language list (iPhone 4)

  19. Thanks a lot Google. You are now supporting my tongue language, Arabic. Yet the application is not available in my country, Kuwait.

    Way to go guys, couldn't think of a better way to piss off an Android user.

  20. The market version is : June 21, 2011
    and when downloading it Hebrew doesn't existץ
    Any idea ?

  21. Not working on my device in Saudi Arabia after update I restarted. Device yet nothing !! I PUT language as local Arabic yet it doesn't show in Google search

  22. Hello,
    I was wondering how to change the English language was Hebrew language?
    I'd like an answer quickly.

  23. Thank you google for enabling Hebrew voice recognition. I tried it on the ipad and it works really great. Wow!

  24. Thanks Google for the Arabic support! I do have some questions though; why isn't Standard Arabic supported? will we be able to use this feature on Google search from a computer browser? And lastly, for Arabic speakers with a Saudi accent, which accent yields the best results?

  25. Hi Dear
    Really a nice post about this blog...........................
    iPad Parts

  26. I have "Galaxy Mini" (Android 2.2) - Hebrew and Arabic both don't show up in the language list, even after uninstalling, reinstalling, updating and re-booting the device.


  27. Not working on Galaxy SII in Israel... Tried to reboot and still no Hebrew available in the voice search settings..

  28. Works nicely.
    +1 for calling a contact using voice.

  29. The app wasn't available on the market..
    I had to download it from external link..
    And after installing the apk I didn't find hebrew or arabic..

    I'm using SGS2 MIUI 1.12.2 in israel.

    Any idea??

  30. haha, works great on my iphone 4! love it!

    about time, thank goodness siri came along to put some pressure on you guys, but you came through :)

  31. works very nice on the sumsung I-9000
    also serch for address in hebraw in wase and google earth is great.

  32. Great! the language list has updated itself silently. Hebrew & Arabic are both on the menu now, and it works like a charm.

    Thanks for a killer app!

  33. Would be great to be able to speak in Hebrew in the US.

  34. it works great in hebrew, thank you!

  35. Oh wow this is really a great news that now we can use siri app in middle east.
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