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Google Bringing Voice Recognition to Chrome Web Browser

Google Bringing Voice Recognition to Chrome Web Browser
January 15, 2013 11:02AM

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Google offered a demo that shows how a user can compose an e-mail by speaking. With this new JavaScript API, developers can integrate speech recognition into their Web apps. That means it might not be long before a user will be able to, as Google's Glen Shires put it, "talk apps into doing all sorts of things."

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With all the rage around Apple's Siri -- and smartphone voice recognition technologies in general -- Google is moving to drive the buzz onto the desktop. Google on Monday rolled out a Chrome beta with voice recognition.

Just days after releasing the Chrome Web browser version 24 for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems, Google released Chrome 25 beta. Chrome 25 beta is available for download with voice support in all its (early) glory.

"Using your voice to search on your computer or phone is handy, but there's so much more you can do with voice commands," said Glen Shires, software engineer and speech specialist at Google. "Imagine if you could dictate documents, have a freestyle rap battle, or control game characters with your browser using only your voice."

Dictate Your E-Mail

With Monday's Chrome Beta release, Shires promised that this future is closer than you think. That's because the Chrome Beta 25 release includes the Web Speech API for developers. And that means users can start using new, interactive experiences with Web apps.

Google offered a demo that shows how a user can compose an e-mail by speaking, which seemed to work well enough. With this new JavaScript API, developers can integrate speech recognition into their Web apps. That means it might not be long before a user will be able to, as Shires put it, "talk apps into doing all sorts of things."

Are We Ready?

Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said this was not Google's first foray into blending voice recognition on the PC.

"Google previously enabled voice search on the PC. However people now have been conditioned to use speech recognition by mobile devices and tablets. This is also part of a long-term Google vision for Star Trek-like voice control of the PC," Sterling said.

"Google obviously believes it can add utility and differentiation by bringing speech to the browser. The question is how many people will actually use it."

Measuring Siri's Impact

People are using voice recognition technologies on smartphones. A Parks Associates survey showed more than half of U.S. users of the Apple iPhone 4S are "very satisfied" with the Siri voice-command feature. Another 21 percent are satisfied. Thirty-seven percent of iPhone 4S owners also want to have a similar voice-command interface for their TV set, and roughly 20 percent do not.

"People are expressing some reservations about Siri that could impact its popularity on other platforms," said John Barrett, director of Consumer Analytics at Parks Associates. "Some said Siri didn't work well against background noise. Others said it had trouble understanding commands. These problems could be amplified in a noisy living room, where the main TV would be located."

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