Google brings automatic voice search to computers running Chrome

The downloadable extension works on both desktop and laptop computers

Laptop and desktop users can now do a Google search without typing just by speaking aloud, with a Chrome extension that Google made available on Tuesday.

The browser extension, Google Voice Search Hotword, can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store and is available both for the desktop and laptops. Google designates it as being in beta.

The tool lets users perform a voice search by going to Google.com and saying, "OK Google," then speaking the search term. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming in the U.S., Google gave some cooking-related examples in an explanatory video: Users can say, "OK Google, compare olive oil and butter," or, "OK Google, what is five tablespoons in ounces?" (Answer: 2.5.)

Reminders can also be set with the service, so people can say, "OK Google, set a timer for 10 minutes," or, "Remind me to buy more olive oil on Sunday afternoon."

The active tab in the Chrome browser needs to be Google.com for it to work. But people can also conduct a new search directly from the search results page. Users will know they are good to go if the microphone icon in the search bar appears bold. To save on battery life, users can set the feature to stop listening after five minutes of inactivity.

There's more going on behind the scenes than just talk. Google is working to improve the ranking algorithms behind its search products to provide better answers when users ask more complex questions. When Google Search turned 15 years old earlier this year, the company rolled out some enhanced features such as comparisons and filters.

Google also previewed some of the new voice search functionalities at its I/O conference for developers this past May. The release of the voice search product is part of Google's larger efforts to build more natural language processing into search, to make the process seem as natural as possible.

During the I/O conference, Google Senior Vice President Amit Singhal likened the company's evolving search functionality to asking a friend for information.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGoogleinternetsearch engines

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?