Ask.com has just added a new and free voice activated directions service to their Mobile site so that users are able to speak their location and then speak their desired destination and receive directions on their mobile phone. When I first read about it, it seemed like it was Ask.com’s response to GOOG-411, except they were trying to take it a bit further. I decided to put the service ,which is called “Click to Speak” to the test to see if it was something worth using.
The first thing I did on my mobile phone was go to http://m.ask.com. Then I saw the following options:
I selected #2 – Directions with voice entry, and then it asked if I wanted to place a call. Placing the call connects you to their service at which point you’re asked to speak your location. It’ll repeat it back and ask if it’s correct, and which point you say yes or no and then it will move on to your destination. You can enter in an address or an intersection, it accepts both. While I was entering in my destinations, I noticed that it had a hard time with extra words for a street name like “Avenue” or “Road.” It would ask me to repeat the names of the streets, but without the extras. Once it had my starting and ending points, I was informed that I would be receiving a text message soon. The call ended, and sure enough, a text message came with my directions.
Problems with the service
While the entire process of entering in an address was fairly simple and easy to use, the directions it gave me weren’t the best. For my example trip, I entered that my starting location was the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street in Chicago, Illinois and that I was headed to the intersection of Lincolnway and Duff in Ames, Iowa. Their estimated time that it would take me to drive this was over 8 hours which I knew wasn’t quite right as I’ve done this drive before. Then I went to Google and entered the same instructions, and the route they provided said it would take me about 5 hours and 40 minutes which is what I would expect it to take. It appears as though the route that Ask.com calculates for you is chosen based upon miles. The shortest route wins, even if it will take quite a bit longer.
Would I use this service again? Well, to be honest, probably not. While it’s nice and could perhaps work for shorter distances, the directions it provides for long distances just tacks on too much time.