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TORONTO (Reuters) - Looking for directions to the nearest supermarket, bank or cafe? Don't approach a stranger for information, just ask your smartphone.
Dragon Go!, a new voice-powered search app, allows users to simply say what they're looking for and then delivers the most relevant search results.
A search asking for directions to the closest supermarket, for example, automatically launches the Maps app along with the route.
The free app, which supports over 180 content providers, predicts a user's intent and then displays side-by-side results from various content sources ranging from search engines to shopping sites and music sites.
"We want to make it easier for you to go to your favorite site or app, and then interact in the way you're accustomed to", said Vlad Sejnoha, chief technology officer of Nuance, which developed and launched the app and specializes in speech recognition products.
Dragon Go! is currently only available in the United States in English, but the company has plans to expand the app to other markets.
Since it was released earlier this month Dragon Go! has received a positive reception on the Web and has been given the thumbs up by some popular technology sites. Users have also responded favorably.
But some critics say the app makes too many assumptions on user intent and does not understand queries. Some detractors have also experienced issues loading results.
Some users also cited a preference for Siri, another voice-powered personal assistant app that Apple purchased in 2010, that uses speech recognition technology from Nuance.
Dragon Go! is one of several voice-controlled apps. Both Google and Bing have voice-powered search apps. Dragon Dictation is an app also developed by Nuance that allows users to dictate emails and text messages.
Sejnoha said Nuance is forging ahead with plans to increase the breadth and depth of speech commands.
"You might ask a specific question like,' What are the closing hours' for a particular business?' We are working on technology that can extract that kind of information, so when users ask for it they just get the answer", said Sejnoha.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney