Firefox Voice Beta starts - gHacks Tech News

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Firefox Voice Beta starts

Firefox Voice is a new experiment by Mozilla that has just been launched as a beta. The experiment brings voice controls to the Firefox web browser and is currently only available for desktop versions of Firefox.

Interested users may visit the Firefox Voice Campaign website to join the beta and install the Firefox Voice extension in the Firefox web browser.

The extension requires a truckload of permissions but that is understandable considering that you control different parts of the browser using it. You are asked if you want to allow Firefox Voice to collect voice transcripts and make them available to Mozilla for research purposes; you can allow or deny the request.

Note that Firefox Voice makes use of the Google Cloud Speech Service; any voice command is submitted to Google's service. Mozilla notes that Google does not record these commands.

Firefox Voice is not the first attempt to bring voice controls to Firefox. Mozilla launched an experiment called Voice Fill back in 2017 to "speak to" search engines.

firefox voice mozilla

Firefox Voice detects microphones connected to the computer automatically. Since you control the browser using voice input, it is necessary that at least one microphone is properly connected to the device.

As far as options are concerned, there is a lot that you can use Firefox Voice already for even in this early stage of development:

  • Search the web, e.g. "Search for Japanese restaurant in New York", or "Look up recipes for lasagna".
  • Search specific websites, e.g. "Search my Gmail for tickets to event XYZ", "Search CSS grid on MDN". Only a selection of sites are supported including several Google services, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, or Spotify.
  • Go to website, e.g. "Go to Wikipedia", or "Show me the 49ers schedule".
  • Ask questions, e.g. "who created Star Wars", or "Who won the Grand Slam in 2019".
  • Play music or video, e.g. "Play Time in a Bottle on Spotify", or "Play the Board Game Geek show".
  • Control media playback, e.g. "Play", "Mute", or "Next".
  • Read to me, e.g. "read this page".
  • Weather, e.g. "show me weather in Berlin, Germany", or "What is the temperature in Bangkog?".
  • Translate, e.g. "Translate this webpage to German", or "How do you say 'phrase' in Spanish?".
  • Traffic and Maps, e.g. "Find the nearest Thai restaurant on maps" or "How do i get to the nearest University".
  • Timer, e.g. "set a timer for 10 minutes".
  • Find tab, e.g. "Find calendar tab".
  • Browser controls, e.g. "Close tab", "Open new tab", or "Print".
  • Clipboard activity, e.g. "Copy title", "Copy link", or "Paste".
  • Giving commands nicknames, e.g. "Give that the name news" to assign "news" to the active site.

As you can see, Firefox Voice supports quite a good range of voice commands already. It is likely that the service will see even more commands in the future as development is still ongoing.

Firefox Voice is limited to controls in the English language currently. To use it, activate the Firefox Voice icon in the address bar and speak to control the browser using your voice.

Voice worked surprisingly well during an initial test. How well it works depends on a number of factors, including the microphone that is used, the command that is issued, and your pronunciation.

Additional information is available on the project's GitHub webpage.

Closing Words

Firefox Voice is an interesting feature that works really well already. While I have little use for it, I can see its use for others. Obviously, having to click a button to run voice commands is not the most effective way of controlling the browser but since most users would not probably want that the service listens to everything, it is necessary to limit voice interaction.

Now You: Would you use Firefox Voice? (via Sören Hentzschel)

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Firefox Voice Beta starts
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Firefox Voice Beta starts
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Firefox Voice is a new experiment by Mozilla that has just been launched as a beta. The experiment brings voice controls to the Firefox web browser.
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Comments

  1. Yuliya said on January 12, 2020 at 6:04 pm
    Reply

    Click that button and say “Download Chromium”.

    1. Iron Heart said on January 13, 2020 at 11:28 pm
      Reply

      @Yuliya

      Firefox won’t make a turnaround anyway, why do you even bother?

  2. Anonymous said on January 12, 2020 at 6:42 pm
    Reply

    > any voice command is send to Google’s service

    Mozilla is incurable…

    (send->sent)

    > Obviously, having to click a button to run voice commands is not the most effective way of controlling the browser but since most users would not probably want that the service listens to everything, it is necessary to limit voice interaction.

    Oh, that will probably come, Firefox listening to everything around looking for an activation word, and randomly triggering the sending of discussions to Google and themselves by misidentifying this word.

    > Since we are still testing, we are asking the early adopters (you) to:
    – Have telemetry always enabled and allow collection of voice transcripts

    Is Mozilla keeping voice transcripts opt in or opt out ? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was opt out.

  3. Sol Shine said on January 12, 2020 at 7:19 pm
    Reply

    A waste of resources.
    People who need voice commands like the disabled will need a OS-wide voice command program.
    Mozilla should instead include a feature for email, chat, voice and video communication in it’s desktop and mobile browsers to rival WhatsApp.
    Their previous attempt, used WebRTC which had/has a bug that revealed your local IP address when using VPN. They should fix that or use a alternative.
    Even Teamviewer got voice and video chat after I suggested it to them (maybe they already had it planned).
    I always have my browser (Firefox) open and do not want another program open to get or send email or (voice/video) chat.
    Such a communication feature should run in it’s own process and container to be secured against websites you have open and even against extensions.
    Imagine a open source program that works on desktop and mobile that combines the features of a webbrowser with addons (ads and javascript blockers, etc) and WhatsApp and a email client.

  4. Kubrick said on January 12, 2020 at 8:46 pm
    Reply

    In other words this is the mozilla version of the chrome hotword module.i was wondering when firefox would inherit this functionality and it is a superb addition to any browser especially for people who are physically impaired.

  5. Ascrod said on January 12, 2020 at 11:06 pm
    Reply

    I would be more excited for voice-controlled anything if the functionality didn’t require sending my voice to someone else’s computer. Especially Google’s.

  6. Dave said on January 12, 2020 at 11:15 pm
    Reply

    Martin,
    Please help. Can’t run either version of Waterfox under Debian Buster with lastest security patch (the one that USA Homeland Security issued a warning over):

    XPCOMGlueLoad error for file /home/a/Downloads/waterfox/libnspr4.so:
    /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6: version `GLIBC_2.30′ not found (required by /home/a/Downloads/waterfox/libnspr4.so)
    Couldn’t load XPCOM.

    Thanks!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 13, 2020 at 6:37 am
      Reply

      Seems to be a common problem: https://github.com/MrAlex94/Waterfox/issues/1128

    2. notanon said on January 13, 2020 at 8:47 am
      Reply

      @Dave,

      Uses Waterfox, has problems.

      ROTFLMAO.

      BTW, stop hijacking the comments section of a Firefox article. Waterfox is not Firefox.

      ghack is not a tech support site.

      1. Iron Heart said on January 14, 2020 at 8:56 am
        Reply

        @notanon

        Are you *** [Editor: please stay polite]? Serious question, because Waterfox is Firefox with a different branding. Their modifications are mostly privacy-focused and hardly ever break stuff on their own. What is broken in Waterfox is usually also broken in Firefox.

  7. Peter Newton said on January 12, 2020 at 11:30 pm
    Reply

    Hi all,

    I’m not sure about this, it seems like “Cortana” for Firefox, I’m worried about the data scraping and the telemetry. From the perspective of convenience, obviously there are advantages, I’m going to be very interested to hear what everyone else has to say about it, before I even go anywhere near it.

    Peter Newton [London UK]

  8. notanon said on January 13, 2020 at 3:34 am
    Reply

    Yeah, Firefox is the first to implement DNS-Over-HTTPS (DoH), & all the shills complain about Cloudflare, who’s never done anything wrong.

    Now Firefox partners with Google (Google Cloud Speech Service), who spies on it’s users(too many articles to choose from, do an internet search & choose one), chooses money over censorship (Google censoring the internet for China), partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop/implement a battlefield AI (Project Maven), etc.

    TLDR – Google stopped using the motto “Don’t be evil”, because they’re evil.

    Notice how all of the shills who s*** on Cloudflare are avoiding mentioning Google, BUT STILL S***ING ON FIREFOX.

    SMH.

    Clown World.

  9. Googlesoft Spyware Update said on January 13, 2020 at 4:13 am
    Reply

    Clearly a wrapper for Google’s spyware.

    1. Anonymous said on January 13, 2020 at 1:59 pm
      Reply

      Agreed.

  10. Anon said on January 13, 2020 at 9:25 am
    Reply

    Ey? That’s a bit too much, don’t you think? It’s a browser, not a voice assistant. I wish we could go back in time and have normal internet browsers again, not some bloatware. Remember Nero Burning Rom or Musicmatch Jukebox?

  11. michal said on January 13, 2020 at 9:31 am
    Reply

    Hi. Mozilla has it voice experiment, recording audio. Does anyone know why dont they use it and recognize voise using google service? Is that project for sth else, is it not ready?

  12. Anonymous said on January 13, 2020 at 10:36 am
    Reply

    Good maybe for the disabled, but spyware for all other users. Mozilla probably wants to make cash off of user data like all the other greedy f#@%s like Amazon and Google.

    1. Anonymous said on January 13, 2020 at 2:04 pm
      Reply

      Yes, Mozilla wants to make cash off of user data like Amazon and Google, just indirectly. Google gives them most of their income. And they integrate all Google spyware services in Firefox while still claiming that *their* privacy policy is not the worst around.

  13. Mele said on January 13, 2020 at 1:21 pm
    Reply

    I’d use it for sure IF it wasn’t connected to Google. Why should I trust Mozilla or Google that they don’t associate the commands with me? Google is evil and one would be a fool to trust anything they claim and Mozilla, sadly, is sending out so many mixed signals regarding privacy that I wouldn’t trust them either (although I did way back many years ago).

    If you click on the Mozilla web page to join the testing you are confronted with a popup requiring your FULL NAME. Why? Why does Mozilla require that? Has anyone put in “Bugs Bunny” and been allowed to join the test? I can understand the requirement that you allow telemetry during this test but not that of needing your full name or trusting that Google doesn’t collect your commands just because Mozilla says they don’t.

    I use dictation on my iPhone almost exclusively (very rarely type text) and I’ve always wanted this for browsers as well as for Windows and was really disappointed when I tried Microsoft’s Speech for Windows 10 as Microsoft claims it is vastly improved from Speech for Windows 8 and earlier (I’ve tried it on every version of Windows). The problems are not me because I have a trained voice and no difficulties in getting this type of program to understand me. Maybe some day these sorts of programs will work well and preserve the user’s privacy but I am skeptical if this will ever happen.

  14. Kubrick said on January 13, 2020 at 2:03 pm
    Reply

    Meanwhile on the other side of the fence the mozilla bashers will be complaining because the function has not been implemented..

    No win-win can’t do right for doing wrong situation for mozilla and i pity them.
    maybe before mozilla even suggests a new function in their browser a mass public referendum should be offered to test the waters beforehand.

    As oscar wilde said.”taste is the enemy of art.”.

    1. Iron Heart said on January 13, 2020 at 11:27 pm
      Reply

      @Kubrick

      Well, for a start, Mozilla should focus on providing a web browser, not a bloated toolbox serving as a second operating system on top of the actual operating system. Most people would already be content with them if they were heading towards a barebones web browser, but they just aren’t.

  15. John Fenderson said on January 13, 2020 at 6:57 pm
    Reply

    “Would you use Firefox Voice?”

    I don’t see what the use case for this, honestly, so I guess that answer to that is “no”. Voice controls are something that I find generally worthless, and can be very annoying to others who happen to be within earshot.

  16. Rex said on January 16, 2020 at 11:43 am
    Reply

    Is it any surprise that they’re circling the drain? This is peak ADHD – starting a million different projects that nobody asked for, more bloat after ironically getting rid of the extension technology that would’ve allowed such side projects to remain strictly for those who wanted them instead of bloating the browser.

    Pocket, telemetry, browser ads, PDF.js, accessibility API and now this. The Mozilla Labs site is full of old projects like this that were abandoned half way.

  17. The_Punisher said on January 16, 2020 at 10:12 pm
    Reply

    Pathetic. Surely they know there are a zillion TTS programs that work offline. Some are even open source! They could’ve worked on any one of them instead of using Google’s shit basket.

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