When Google first introduced Google Now on their Android-powered smartphones and tablets, the world sat up and took notice. While Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, may have been the first to launch, more than a few people find Google’s solution to be far more comprehensive. With your permission, Google Now can offer all sorts of contextual analysis – like airport itineraries, package tracking, etc – that competing solutions can’t match.
Recently, the company pushed those solutions to Apple’s iOS-powered products, but the web felt left out.
That’s all changing – at the company’s I/O developer conference today, Google announced that voice search was coming to the desktop version of Chrome in a very big way.
Right now, you can interact with Chrome using your voice, but the experience leaves something to be desired. You need to click a microphone icon and then speak, and Google will translate your spoken word into text. That’s it – it doesn’t do anything intelligent with it.
Coming soon, however, you’ll be getting a bit of Star Trek tech with your Google Chrome browser. You won’t need to click the microphone to dictate your request into the search bar, then hit enter to actually make the search request. Instead, Google is taking a page from their Google Glass interaction and adding command keywords.
You’ll be able to sit back in your chair – or possibly even stand across the room, say, cooking – and say, “Okay, Google…” followed by what you want to know. If it’s something that can pop up in a Google result without leaving the page, like the population of a country, or a unit conversion, Google will read the result to you. Otherwise, you’ll get a traditional Google search.
While voice control is potentially more important on small mobile devices, where user-Google interaction is physically limited, this could be a real boon for users on the desktop PC, too. You can be doing one thing (I used cooking, in the above example – maybe your recipe is in grams, and your scale only measures in ounces, and you need to convert between the two), and simple ask Google to find the results for you.
The new functionality will be coming in the following weeks, though Google has so far neglected to give a precise timeline.