Google is reportedly testing the waters of voice-activated search with select users, and may even integrate the feature into the Google.com search engine once the experiment is complete. The news follows reports that Google's voice-search product has evolved to the point of recognizing Chinese and will even learn from the user's speech patterns.
As previously indicated, Google's voice search function isn't available to everyone. However, for the select few chosen for the experiment, Voice Search detects the computer's microphone settings and loads up a "Speak Now" widget planted next to the search query. Users simply press the button, say the search query aloud, and watch the software transcribe the vocal words into the text field.
Google's Voice Search is already available on Android devices, appearing as a microphone sitting next to the query field in the Google Search widget, and as a standalone app. Not only can users search locally on the device or online via Google's search engine, but voice commands can be translated into actions. For instance, saying "listen to Prince Sign O The Times" will pull up a related app like Pandora or Slacker Radio. Saying "go to Tom's Hardware" takes the browser straight to our mobilized front page.
But is voice search really necessary on the desktop? For those who can speak faster than they can type, the new feature could be entirely helpful. The feature would be even better if Google were to implement voice actions, allowing users to pull up local videos from the hard drive, music stored in the upcoming Google Music (cloud) service and so on. A desktop widget could potentially be huge.
Monday Google confirmed that it is indeed experimenting with a voice search feature, but gave no indication that it will be a permanent addition to the search engine. "Google is constantly experimenting with new features," a company spokesperson said.