If you're a Google Voice user, you'll almost certainly have experienced its frequently insane attempts at voicemail transcriptions. There are times when these offer some hilarious relief in the middle of a dull day, but they also stand in the way of, you know… actually understanding what's been said.
Transcriptions that are not accurate are less than helpful, and Google has taken steps to up its game. Using sample voicemails from volunteers, it has been possible to improve voicemail transcriptions so there are far fewer errors. The new and improved system is available right now, and Google is keen for you to try it out.
By working with voicemails offered up by users, Google has been able to use real world data to bring dramatic improvements to speech-to-text conversion. The development is far from over, and the company says that work continues to make things even better. Google software engineer Zander Danko says:
We asked users if they would kindly share some of their voicemails for research and system improvements. Thanks to those who participated, we are happy to announce an improved voicemail system in Google Voice and Project Fi that delivers more accurate transcriptions. Using a (deep breath) long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network (whew!), we cut our transcription errors by 49%.
If you're yet to try out Google Voice, you can sign up for an account here. For those of you already signed up, have you noticed an improvement?