Google Adds Voice Search to Chrome Browser

Voice search is coming to Chrome for PCs. At a media event today in San Francisco, Google announced that it's bringing speech recognition to desktop and laptop versions of its Web browser.

Voice input is a popular feature among users of Google Android mobile devices, where tiny physical and screen keyboards often make typing difficult.

Google is adding voice search to the latest version of Chrome for desktops. To use the feature, your PC will need a built-in or attached microphone--pretty much standard equipment on today's webcam-equipped laptops.

Voice Search for Chrome in English is "rolling out now," Google says, but you may not see the feature right away. (I'm using the latest version of Chrome and wasn't able to access voice search as of Tuesday afternoon, US Pacific Time.)

Here's how it works: When you go to Google.com, you'll see a microphone icon in the far right corner of the search box. Click it and speak your query:

Voice search is useful for lengthy queries and for words that are hard to spell. Google's demo video uses the phrase, "weather for Schenectady, New York," as an example.

Google continues to fine-tune its speech recognition technology, which is growing in popularity. Its English Voice Search system now uses 230 billion words from actual user queries, allowing it to better recognize phrases people are likely to say, the company says.

Google's voice search traffic has risen six-fold in the past year, an increase that speaks to the popularity of speech recognition on mobile devices. It will be interesting to see if desktop and laptop PC users show the same enthusiasm for voice input.

Google today also announced a new search feature called Instant Pages, as well as improved image search tools.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .

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