Google Makes Talking To Your Computer Slightly Less Crazy With Speech Search Chrome Extension

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Google has a new Chrome extension released today that brings a recently introduced mobile feature to the desktop. The feature is automatic voice search, which is triggered whenever you utter the phrase “Okay, Google.” The company announced the new feature on Google+ today, (via 9to5Google), and it’s live now and available for users in U.S. English.

Previously, Google had made it possible to search the web from the desktop by speaking, but you had to actually click a button to get the website to listen. Now, so long as you have the extension installed, whenever you navigate to Google.com, you’ll be able to just say “Okay, Google” and instantly speak what you’re looking for to receive results.

The service has some useful limitations, meaning that a Google search page has to be the active tab in order for it to work. You’ll know if it’s primed to listen because the little microphone icon will be filled in, as you can see in the side-by-side example below. But it works on any results page, too, so that once you’ve done a search, you can continue just using your voice so long as you don’t navigate away or click on another open window.

speech-search-activeIt shows you the words as you speak them, and seems pretty accurate based on my brief testing. The use cases are actually pretty extensive: You can use it for cooking, as Google suggests, for instance, to ask your computer for measurements and more while your hands are dirty. Or just ask Google some questions from the sofa if you’re running a media center PC. It’ll even speak back to you some of the results, like when you ask for measurement or currency conversions.

It’s fun, and at least marginally handy, and free, so check it out. We’re inching ever nearer to the day when your computer hears everything, and anticipates your needs based on all that data. Scary/awesome.