The internet giant, Google, has just announced the launch of their voice-activated search for laptops and PC’s. The Google Chrome extension was launched in the U.S. in an English only version. The browser extension will become available in other countries and languages, following the beta version that was launched in the U.S. today. A microphone will be required to be present on the device, or users can connect and install their own 3rd party microphones.
Residents in the U.S. can now install the free browser extension in their Chrome browser by visiting the Chrome Web Store. After installation, a user will need to allow the extension to access the computer’s microphone. A prompt, “Say: OK Google,” will then appear in the browser’s search bar. The extension can then be activated by users by speaking the voice command, “OK Google.” Once the extension hears a voice command, the browser will display a red microphone graphic and type the spoken voice command automatically, before revealing the answer to the spoken query.
In some reviews, it was noted that users would have to click the microphone icon on Google.com, before the extension accepted their voice search. Other reviews did not state any problems with the beta version that was just released. A few reviewers mentioned that once they launched it on their laptop or PC’s browser, it did not work due to having other tabs open. The most positive comments were from users that realized the usefulness that a hands-free browser would bring to their future.
Some timely uses, for the “Google Voice Search Hotword” extension, were posted on Google+ yesterday. The scenario described in the post was related to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. It painted a graphic picture of a user being up to their elbows in stuffing a turkey and needing to calculate how much walnuts they would need for their stuffing. Instead of washing their hands to use their laptop to search the web, the extension would make it possible to just speak and ask the question: “OK Google, how many ounces are there in one cup?” The extension would then go directly to the answer, all totally hands-free. The versatility of the extension was also demonstrated in the post. The extension would enable a user to be reminded to baste their turkey as well. The holiday chef would just need to issue the voice command: “OK Google, set a timer for 30 minutes.”
To those that fear any eavesdropping, Google says that the microphone will stop listening after five minutes of not receiving another voice command. This feature will also save power for devices that are currently running on batteries. Google told users how they could tell if the microphone is active. If the graphic of the microphone has any shade of color, then it is active, but if an outlined microphone graphic is displayed, then the microphone is off.
Google first unveiled their new and innovative voice-activated search last May. The extension is similar to the “Google Now” apps on Android and iOS devices. The apps allowed users to speak to the search engine as if they were having a conversation with the device. The app would then respond in a more natural way of conversing with the user.
Google has been experimenting with improving their voice-activated search and commands for some time now. Voice-activation has existed for years on older versions of some Android devices. Now an improved version of can be run on laptops and PC’s.
By Brent Matsalla