Google Offers Free 411 - No Ads!

[insert a joke about getting da 411 on the 411 here]

Google is offering free 411 service; ad-free, very sophisticated voice recognition, and oddly unirritating directory assistance. You can only reach businesses currently, but at least there aren't any ads right quite yet, which is a nice break.

Just call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and give it a try, should you be in need of a business number.

Crave more or less broke this story for me, but I'm more psyched about this than I thought I would be. First, the voice rec abilities are pretty stunning. I called to get the number of a local restaurant, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. Even though I slurred this as much as possible, the pleasant computer voice on the other end responded "Purple Cafe and Wine Bar" in a baritone timber before offering me the number.

The voice rec had a harder time with my favorite Chinese place, Sichuanese Cuisine. Also, it had some fairly hilarious pronunciations of local cities, which aren't always easy to figure out. You know the way Worcester in pronounced "Woostuh" in Massachusetts? We have a city named Sequim, pronounced "Squim" and the sexy male computer voice squeezed about three more syllables out of it than necessary.

Now, Google's record-keeping system has always freaked me out a bit - I use Gmail but am occasionally bothered when the targeted ads hit too close to home ("Hemorrhoids? Cheap meds!"), and these calls are recorded, I'm sure for the purpose of fine tuning the system to respond better to personal idiolects. So I'm racheting down my "Google is eveil" rhetoric, which is based more on their inability to hire me than any real threat.

Photo by Belen.

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Guest's picture

This rules, I'm bad about calling 411, especially when I'm on the road. I tried it out & it worked great. I've already saved it in my phone book.

Guest's picture
Lee B

it works really well! although when i was looking up "red bowl" asian bistro it listed offices for red bull. so i said "cancel" and re-iterated "red bow-ell" and it found it.

Guest's picture

I tried it now too and it works great. I also like that it has an easy to remember phone number. I remember having to use few times online 411 directory at work with not the best results. I think this one will better. Thanks for posting it.

Guest's picture

I prefer 1-800-FREE-411 (or 1-888-FREE-411)

Guest's picture

One tip is instead of asking for the name of the restaurant, just ask for the type of restaurant such as Chinese restaurant. It'll give you a list to choose from. That way you don't have to deal with mispronouncing the name. You can also give the zip code if you know it (which I rarely do).

There's a good video I saw about this too - a Google employee is ordering a pizza and there's a contest if you can guess which of the employees is the voice on the service.