Google Rolling Out Voice Search

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 15, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Google Chrome, Search

Voice Search is the second new technology next to page prerendering that Google introduced exclusively for Chrome web browser users yesterday on Inside Search. Android smartphone users may already be aware of Voice Search, as it is available for their devices. The majority of desktop users on the other hand are new to the concept of searching the Internet with their voice. The concept is not entirely new though. The Firesay add-on for the Firefox web browser added speech recognition to the browser. It only offered basic commands that included a search option. The project website has not been available for some time now, and it is unclear if the add-on will ever be available again.

Back to Google. The new voice search option is currently being rolled out to visitors who open the search engine's website in the Chrome browser.

google voice search

A small microphone is displayed next to the search form if voice search is available. Users need to click on the microphone icon before they can use their voice to search Google. The only requirement is a connected microphone and the Google Chrome browser.

Take a look at the following video that introduces the new feature.

The feature is rolling out, and it may take weeks before all Google visitors get to see the microphone on the main Google page.

Probably the biggest usability issue is that you have to click the microphone before you can start speaking and searching. This slows down search noticeable, especially when compared to searching with the keyboard. It is also necessary to click again whenever you want to search anew.

We have not been able to test the feature yet, but have a few concerns. It is likely that text in the search form gets erased whenever the microphone is used to submit a new search to Google. It is also unlikely that there is an option to correct words with your voice, which means that it may be necessary to use the mouse and keyboard to do that.

It will also be interesting if the speech recognition algorithm will be able to identify English words from users from all over the world correctly. While that's probably difficulty enough for the different English accents, it is without doubt even more difficulty when foreign users use the feature.


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