The built-in voice recognition software in the Nexus One is one of the Google Phone's niftiest features.
But, as Reuters first noted, the feature comes with one key handicap: it censors swear words, automatically replacing expletives with a series of "#" symbols.
The voice-to-text feature is made to let users dictate their text messages, emails, and even search queries--so long as they're G-rated, it seems. An spoken insult could be translated by the phone into "#### you," and, as CNET notes, the phone even censored the "S" in "BS."
Reuters says of the phone,
While perhaps not as politically charged as Google's censorship of Internet search results in China (a practice Google recently said it will no longer engage in), this restriction of free speech for the foul-mouthed is puzzling, and somewhat inconvenient.
So why the block? Is Google trying to get us to clean up our language?
Apparently, Google is worried about what might accidentally be transcribed, given the limitations of voice recognition technology.
A Google spokesperson told Reuters, "We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent."
CNET Chris Matyszczyk 's wonders,
I have a Croatian friend. If I ever got a Nexus One, I would like to be able to address him by his name. His name is Fuk. Would his name be transcribed, every time, as ###? How sad.
Having not had a chance to try swearing at the phone, we wonder: what curse words made Google's list of censor-worthy terms? Who decided what would be banned, and how? If you know, write to us at email@example.com!