Yahoo's iPhone app gets spoken search

Yahoo's Vlingo-powered voice search comes to its Yahoo Mobile application.

Yahoo Mobile 1.1
Now you can speak a search term as well as type it. (Credit: Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

On Tuesday, we reported that Yahoo pulled the plug on the Java version of its revamped mobile application, with the assurance that it would continue to develop for iPhone and other mobile platforms.

On Wednesday, Yahoo proved that with an update to its iPhone app. Yahoo Mobile 1.1 for iPhone and iPod Touch enables voice searches everywhere that the search bar is located in the app. You'll press the oneSearch field and see the large gray button prompting you to press and speak your inquiry. Unlike Google's voice app, which by all appearances had permission to break Apple's development rules, you cannot bring the phone to your ear to activate the voice prompt.

Voice transcription also plays a role within the "interests" tab on Yahoo Mobile, where you can utter a new topic after tapping "add anything." Like most voice input systems, this one--which is powered by Vlingo--isn't without its computational errors. "Kite surfing" became "Kate Hudson," but the app handled "cell phones" flawlessly. Clear speech is an important skill to have in voice search.

In addition to releasing this Yahoo Mobile update, Yahoo has expanded support for oneSearch with voice to the BlackBerry Bold, Storm, Flip, and Curve 8900. It also pushed out an auto-locate feature to the Yahoo oneSearch shortcut on some Window Mobile devices, and has made that application available to phone users in 21 countries outside the U.S., including India, Canada, the U.K., and the Philippines.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.