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Google Testing Voice Search with Limited Users

Google is reportedly testing the waters of voice-activated search with select users, and may even integrate the feature into the 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.

  • mightymaxio
    Opera already has this built in since a couple of major revisions ago :)
  • superlinkx
    This is a feature introduced in Chrome some time ago. Its an experimental HTML5 feature called voice input fields. Chrome 11 was the first stable version to have this feature.

    There's an awesome extension for Chrome called Voice Search and it not only puts a button in chrome to quickly search, but also allows you to replace search fields on any site (including Google) with the voice input field. Works great.
  • Kryan
    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.
    I'll bet you a million bucks I can speak faster than ANYONE you know can type. Also, think of disabled people before saying this is useless... some people simply CAN'T type...
  • superhighperf
    i recently tried using Dragon voice. it is amazing, you can navigate windows, web, applications.... you need a good mike and a quiet room but with a bit of effort you can get pretty good. you can actually say "click on" and it will find it and click on it. it needs to have the button text to recognize it so some java? buttons don't work

    the thing i am interested in is that it can learn how you speak. it will follow you as you read predefined text and learn how you talk. i look forward to using it more and i got interested in the whole voice thing when i got the google app for my iphone :)

    if they can figure out how to get the text out of all the buttons on a web page it will be the end to the mouse and keyboard as we know it. you guys should try it. it's a good excuse for having a 3.0ghz quad+ core computer ;)
  • eddieroolz
    Soon we'll see students all around the world talking into their computers for search lol
  • gogogadgetliver
    Until this announcement I guess I didn't realize they didn't have this or that it was really needed. On WP7 it does audio recognition offloaded to TellMe servers. Results are intelligently conextual: contact search, web search, local area search etc.. I haven't looked but I would guess Droid has the same (maybe not as slick contextually)?

    On Windows just hit start and type voice.. Works with Bing, Google, IE, FF etc.