Google is working to transform its Chrome Web browser by adding the ability for users to give voice commands to complete an assortment of tasks in the browser.
The nascent new feature is included in the latest Chrome 25 browser beta release, according to a Jan. 14 post by Glen Shires, a Google software engineer and speech specialist, on the Google Chrome Blog.
"Using your voice to search on your computer or phone is handy, but there's so much more you can do with voice commands," wrote Shires. "Imagine if you could dictate documents, have a freestyle rap battle or control game characters with your browser using only your voice. With today's Chrome beta release, this future is closer than you think."
The new beta voice capabilities in Chrome come through the inclusion of the Web Speech API for developers, according to Shires.
In addition, the latest beta version of Chrome 25 includes a new feature meant to prevent performance problems seen in recent Chrome versions, according to Shires. The performance hits have come from third-party programs that don't ask users for permission before they install, he wrote. Now the Chrome beta version will automatically disable some extensions to stop the performance slowdowns.
"The original intent was to give people an option to add useful extensions when installing applications, but unfortunately this feature has been widely abused by third parties who added extensions without user consent," wrote Shires. "A notification will appear with the option to re-enable the affected extensions."
Users can download the Chrome beta here to test drive the voice capabilities and other new features.
Google is always seemingly hard at work making improvements to the Chrome browser—which, according to the latest December 2012 statistics from W3Counter.com—leads Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser in global share. Chrome holds 29.4 percent of the market, compared with IE's 27.8 percent share. Mozilla Firefox trailed with 20.1 percent, followed by Apple Safari at 14.8 percent and Opera at 2.5 percent.
In June 2012, when Chrome unseated Internet Explorer for Web supremacy for the first time, it was a watershed moment for the young browser. StatCounter data from more than 15 billion page views (4 billion from the United States and 850 million from the United Kingdom) for the full month of May shows Chrome took 32.43 percent of the worldwide market, compared with 32.12 percent for IE and 25.55 percent for Firefox.
In November, Chrome 23 incorporated a fix for missing audio when viewing Adobe Flash content while using a quadraphonic speaker setting, as well as at least seven security issues, including three high-risk and three medium-risk vulnerabilities.
The Chrome browser, which celebrated its fourth birthday in September 2012, took on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and the rest.