Google has updated Chrome in build 27 to include conversational voice search, a feature it demoed on stage at Google I/O this year that allows you to search by voice, but also transcribes your queries in real time and lets you use natural language, asking Google straightforward questions and getting straightforward answers, both read back to you by dictation and in actual Google search results.
The transcription feature is awesome, since you can actually watch Google try to anticipate what you’re going to say and then adapt in real time to the right query. So far in my testing, it hasn’t gotten anything wrong; this isn’t the clumsy voice input of five years ago that got things wrong as often as it got them right. Having it understand natural queries is also very cool, and for the first time, you get a sense that this is what we all imagined something like AskJeeves was meant to be, but good and effective.
Questions that are easily answerable generally are. Ask about nation and state capitals and get the answer right away, read back to you by Google. Ask about a location and get a map. Ask about a person and get a brief bio. It’s a lot like having your own personal information agent or knowledge broker, and it’s so impressive that I might even eventually be able to get over my embarrassment of using it in public.
Conversational search is available in the latest stable build, and can be accessed by going to Google’s homepage and clicking the microphone icon in the search bar. So far, I haven’t run into a single connectivity issue or mistaken query, but let us know if your experience differs. Also, Chrome itself wouldn’t detect the update to version 27 on my Mac, so you may have to go direct to the Chrome website and reinstall altogether to get this up and running.
FYI: Some folks are having issues which are being reported as Internet connectivity problems, though that’s not something I’ve encountered yet.