A nice little tidbit that slipped out from DevCon last week is that BlackBerry 6 will be able to initiate universal search by voice, according to RIM product manager Bhavuk Kaul. This is a natural progression, considering how the many different flavours of Google mobile search are voice-enabled, and how great apps like Vlingo are already making voice search easy on a number of platforms. The native BlackBerry 6 universal voice search will come with an API that developers can use for their own nefarious searching purposes, and additionally gain advertising revenue through RIM’s serach partners. For developers that have their own partnerships in mind, there will be controls to allow them to share their app data with select applications (rather than the all-or-nothing affair that’s available now).
If you haven’t had a chance to try out BlackBerry 6, universal search is a new feature that brings up on-device and online search results the second you start typing from the home screen. Information can range from contacts, e-mails, music stored locally, or tapping into installed third-party apps to launching into YouTube videos or Google searches. Now that OS 6 has settled in with the Torch and soon some of the newer BlackBerrys out there, it’s good to see RIM is looking on how to expand on its native functions, at least until the PlayBook tablet‘s Neutrino OS by QNX takes over RIM’s smartphones.
Kaul didn’t give any particular timeframe for when a feature like voice-based universal search would be available, but it can’t be that far down the line if he’s willing to talk about it publicly. He also didn’t elaborate quite on how universal voice search would be implemented, but I think the mockup above is a reasonable guess. What do you guys think – is voice search something you would use often, or just a gimmick?