Google Chrome Beta Browser Adds Hands-Free Voice Search

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-03-03
Google Chrome

Google Chrome Beta Browser Adds Hands-Free Voice Search

Google's Chrome beta browser has just been updated with new hands-free voice search capabilities that will allow users to do more with their browsers employing nothing other than voice commands.

The new capabilities were unveiled by Ji Adam Dou, a Google software engineer, in a Feb. 27 post on The Google Chrome Blog.

"If you've ever tried to cook and search at the same time—say, when your hands are covered in flour and you need to know how many ounces are in a cup—you know it can be tricky," wrote Ji. "With the latest Chrome Beta, you can search by voice on Google—no typing, clicking or hand-washing required. Simply open a new tab or visit in Chrome, say 'Ok Google,' and then start speaking your search."

The new version of the Chrome beta browser has been rolling out to U.S. English users on Windows, Mac and Linux since the end of February and it will be followed by support for some other languages and Chrome OS soon, wrote Ji.

In addition to providing voice-activated searches, the new Chrome beta version will allow users to do a wide assortment of other tasks, including setting a timer by using the voice command, "OK Google, set a timer for 30 minutes," or to set a reminder for Google Now by saying "OK Google, remind me to pick up dessert at 6 p.m. tonight," wrote Ji.

The voice command feature can be enabled by users in the Chrome beta version by visiting, clicking on the microphone icon, and then clicking on "Enable OK Google."

The Chrome beta version is an early pre-release version of Chrome that will eventually be moved forward and become a future stable release version of Chrome.

Another new feature in the latest Chrome beta version is the ability for users to set up Chrome supervised users on multiple devices, wrote Ji. "Supervised users makes it easy to help your family members explore the Web in a managed environment," the post continued. "You can determine sites you want to allow or block, and manage permissions for any sites your family member has requested to view. If you create a supervised user, now you can let that user browse on any device in your home with the new 'Import' option. When you import a supervised user, all their permissions will then be synced across devices."

To set up a supervised user in the latest Chrome beta version, users can click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar, and then select Settings. Next, in the Users section, click Add new user.  Next, click "Import an existing supervised user." Now, you can select the user you'd like to import from the list by clicking "Import supervised user."

This update for supervised users is currently supported on Windows, Mac and Linux, and will become available on Chromebooks soon, according to the post.

Google is always making improvements to its Chrome beta browser. In February, Google brought its Google Now notification card feature to the Chrome beta browser Version 33 for desktop users for Windows, Mac and Linux. Google Now, which was introduced for Android devices by Google in June 2012, presents its information through a series of flip-through "cards" that are visible on the screen of a device, providing a different piece of information on each card.

Google Chrome Beta Browser Adds Hands-Free Voice Search

The "cards" appear at the moment they are needed by users, such as the train schedule card appearing when a user is heading to the local train station. Users of Google Now set their own preferences for what information cards appear on their mobile devices. A wide variety of cards are available for Android users to receive instant updates about public transportation, flight information, traffic reports, sports scores, appointments, weather, hotels, events, restaurant reservations and more.

In April 2013, Google unveiled its Google Now service for iOS as part of a new Google Search app so that users of iPhones and iPads could benefit from its notifications.

In March 2013, reports surfaced that Google Now was also under development for desktop users. An early glimpse of the upcoming feature was posted on Google+ by a French developer, Francois Beaufort. The service was not yet live at that point, but its appearance in the beta build could indicate that Google is looking at expanding its use to the desktop.

In December 2012, Google Now received a host of other intriguing improvements aimed at making holiday travel easier and less stressful, including the availability of instant, up-to-date travel information before users even head to the airport, train station or bus terminal.

Google Now also brings travelers helpful information on the weather and things to do in their destination city as they travel. Once travelers are at their destination, Google Now can display options for things to do in the new location, including information on local events near users, as well as suggestions for Websites to explore the events and to get more information on museums, culture and more.

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