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Personal Tech

Google Enables Voice Commands via Chrome Desktop

Google Enables Voice Commands via Chrome Desktop
February 28, 2014 10:30AM

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Analyst Greg Sterling said of voice search coming to Google's Chrome on the desktop: "Essentially it brings Android's familiar voice search capability to the desktop. And in my experience it works well. Still, most people are going to be inclined to use a keyboard to formulate queries where one is available."

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OK, so it's not the same as chewing gum and walking at the same time. But cooking and searching at the same time can be quite a challenge for many -- and Google is working to help those people overcome that and other frustrations associated with trying to navigate search while doing something else.

"If you've ever tried to cook and search at the same time -- say, when your hands are covered in flour and you need to know how many ounces are in a cup -- you know it can be tricky," said Ji Adam Dou, a software engineer and search whisperer at Google. "With the latest Chrome Beta, you can search by voice on Google -- no typing, clicking or hand-washing required."

OK, Google

Here's how it works: Just open a new tab or visit Google.com in Chrome. Once you are there, say "OK Google," and then start speaking your search. Yes, it's just that simple.

Back to the cooking example, you could perform a search where you say, "OK Google, how many ounces are in a cup?" Once you've got your answer and have completed your recipe, you could say, "OK Google, set a timer for 30 minutes."

With your delightful dish cooking, you could then create a reminder for Google Now. Google Now is an intelligent personal assistant that was announced this week for the desktop. From knowing the weather before you start your day, to planning the best route to avoid traffic, or even checking your favorite team's score while they're playing, Google Now is in the business of getting you the information you need when you need it.

But Google Now can also help you remember things. So, back to our cooking example, you can say, "OK Google, remind me to pick up dessert at 6 p.m. tonight" and round out your perfect meal.

Analyst: It Works Well

We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the new whistling tech bell. He told us this isn't exactly brand new. In fact, this browser extension has been available in the U.S. market since November of last year.

"It's unclear how widely adopted it is -- most people are still unaware of the option -- but it's a terrific one to have available. Essentially it brings Android's familiar voice search capability to the desktop. And in my experience it works well," Sterling said. "Still, most people are going to be inclined to use a keyboard to formulate queries where one is available."

Now out of beta, Dou said hands-free Google voice search in Chrome will be rolled out to U.S. users on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next few days, with support for additional languages and Chrome OS coming soon. You can enable the feature by visiting Google.com, clicking on the mic icon, then clicking "Enable OK Google."

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