Goodbye (and Good Riddance), 1-800-GOOG-411

By  |  Friday, October 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm

In announcing the imminent end of 1-800-GOOG-411, a free by-phone directory service, Google got sentimental and called the service an “old friend.” I couldn’t be happier to see it go.

For me, the announcement served mainly as a reminder that GOOG-411 existed in the first place. Sure, I knew about it, but owning a smartphone pretty much renders 411 services obsolete. Looking up a business on the Internet is faster, and delivers better results.

For kicks, I just used GOOG-411, which won’t shut down until November 12, to look up my favorite bagel shop in Los Angeles. The automated directory took a minute to deliver results, and Google didn’t even have the eatery in its listings. Yelp does, so when I conducted a voice search with Google’s mobile app, finding the information among plain old search results took half the time.

Now, I understand that not everyone owns a smartphone or a feature phone with a data plan. For these folks, there’s still 1-800-FREE-411. And you can still ping Google by text message (“466453,” or “GOOGLE”) to get listings as text, which is arguably more useful than spoken directory listings, anyway.

The reason I’m actually happy, and not just indifferent, to see the end of GOOG-411 is in line with Google’s explanation: They want more resources to work on the next generation of speech-enabled services. Recently, Google introducedΒ Voice Actions, which allow Android users to send text messages, punch in GPS directions and listen to music, all with speech.

I imagine that the initial purpose of GOOG-411, to harvest phonemes for other voice services, is now better fulfilled through these new services and Google Voice.Β If the end of GOOG-411 speeds the delivery of more speech-enabled features like Voice Actions, or perhaps makes Google Voice transcriptions less awful, I’ll shed no tears for Google’s Old Yeller.



13 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Thrane Says:

    I was actually a HUGE fan of this service. I honestly HATE searching the web on my iPhone 3G. Just my personal preference.

  2. Jeff Says:

    I completely agree – GOOG-411 is great – Jared's negative personal opinions based on what phone he has and how he prefers to look things up really don't qualify to be the main component of this article because they apply only to how he chooses to search, not the service itself.

  3. BlackKnightRebel Says:

    Goog411 was the best! I'm so mad it's going. I use it at least once or twice a month, sometimes more. Way to pull a Gizmodo and insert inflammatory remarks. I come here to get away from all that πŸ™

  4. Jesse Dictor Says:

    Thank god there is at least one blogger who gets that this doesn;t matter. The whole tech blog-o-sphere is crying over a function they never used.

  5. Emily Says:

    I really liked it and when I'm driving it is literally safer to use than the Internet. It usually worked for me and my purposes.

  6. Russ Says:

    Unless it changed recently, the short code for Google’s SMS service is 46645 (GOOGL).

    Personally, my current favorite tool for finding business listings is the Map app on my iphone.

  7. Dragonwing Says:

    What Jared doesn't seem to comprehend is the fact that the service was voice driven. This made it an invaluable tool for number requests while the user is driving–close to an impossibility ( as well as being incredibly dangerous and likely illegal) when one is attempting to pilot an auto while texting or looking for the results on the web. I'm presuming, then, that Jared walks everywhere he goes? Upon a re-read, I find his missive really kind of dopey.

  8. Relyt Says:

    I don't have a smart phone, so can't look stuff up online. I am sad to see this service go, which has been a lifesaver for me. Literally; once I used GOOG411 to connect me to the local non-emergency police line. Regular 411 is too costly and redundant with free services.

    The important part about it for Google was that it was an end-user voice driven product. As they stated on their blog, it was used as a springboard for other projects like Google Voice Search and things like that. That's the important part about it.

  9. paolo Says:

    PLEASE DON'T SHUT DOWN THE "Goog-411" Service … I have come to depend on it ALL THE TIME. Thanks for creating "Goog-411" .

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  11. judy freitag Says:

    I also hate to see this service stop..I don`t have "smart anything" don`t text and often need such a service while driving..Wouldn`t text there even if I knew how. On my recent trip to California I used the service many times and sang the praises of Google-411 to all I saw..Bring it back ..Please
    judy freitag

  12. Ed Nowik Says:

    the post about good riddance goog 411 was most likely posted by the a-hole working for google who decided to abandon goog-411. That's completely selfish to be glad no one else can use the tremendous convenience goog 411 provided. And the service 800-free-411 is totally worthless…their computer cannot recognize the easiest of is horrible


  13. Philip Says:

    Jared you're a bozo. Goog411 was a great service.