'Fish' = 'Sex'? iPhone can't understand British accent

The new voice-recognition search tool for the iPhone has problems understanding British accents, leading to some bizarre answers to spoken queries, according to a report by Agence France Presse.The free application, which allows iPhone owners to use the Google search engine with their voice, mistook the word "iPhone" variously for "sex," "Einstein" and "kitchen sink," according to the Daily Telegraph.

iPhone voice recognition
The new voice-recognition search tool for the iPhone has problems understanding British accents, leading to some bizarre answers to spoken queries, according to a report by Agence France Presse.

The free application, which allows iPhone owners to use the Google search engine with their voice, mistook the word "iPhone" variously for "sex," "Einstein" and "kitchen sink," according to the Daily Telegraph.

Comments left by users on the application's website indicate the problem:

"Awesome job google. only problem is every time I say the word 'fish' it registers as 'sex.' "

A video demonstration of the Google Mobile App on the online giant's website shows an American engineer successfully asking for pictures of the Golden Gate as well as cinema timetables and temperature conversions. The site also shows people with Irish, British and Chinese accents asking for relatively complicated searches with apparent success.

But in the real world, success eludes British iPhone users. When speaking the word "iPhone" into the application, a Scottish user was offered a porn website after it mistook his search for "sex," the Telegraph reported.

A user from Surrey, south of London, had his request mistaken for "myspace" and "Einstein" was another option offered for "iPhone" spoken with a Kent accent, it said.

The only British accent which correctly understood the request was for a user from Yorkshire, northern England, although he was also offered "bonfire."

A Welsh accent gave the suggestions "gorillas" and "kitchen sink."

"I've got a traditional Kentish accent and the thing kept on spitting back ridiculous things," said Roger Ellinson, 26, from Maidstone in Kent, southeastern England.

"I asked it to find my nearest pizza take away and it came back with something about volcanoes," he added.

"I asked it to find my nearest pub and it gave me a link to some kind of weird dating website," said Ellinson. "I'll have to try to put on my best American accent to get it to work."

On its website, Google points out that the new voice search system "is currently available only in U.S. English."

So Sean Connery, if you're thinking about using your iPhone to search for times to see Quantum of Solace, you'd better put your best George W. Bush on.