If you own an Android-powered smartphone or use the Google app on your iOS device, it’s a good bet you’ve fallen in love with Google’s voice-powered search. It works freakishly well.
What you may not know is that you can enjoy a similar experience on your PC. All you need is Google’s Chrome browser.
And that really is all you need, because it turns out Voice Search is built right in. Just head to Google.com, then click the little microphone on the right side of the search field. (Needless to say, this will work only if your PC has a microphone. Most laptops do; most desktops don’t, unless you have a Webcam.)
The feature is also available in Google Maps, though it doesn’t extend to other Google properties like Calendar, Gmail, and YouTube.
I won’t say this is quite as cool as the app version, as it doesn’t seem to transcribe your words as you’re saying them, but the end result is pretty much the same: Say what you want, and Google quickly and accurately recognizes it.
In fact, you can even say things like, “I need directions to the nearest Starbucks,” and Google will do the best it can (considering that your PC lacks GPS).
This is by no means a new feature—Google added it to Chrome back in 2011—but it’s very easy to overlook. If you’re a Chrome user, give it a try. It might seem a little weird at first to talk to your computer, but once you get used to it, you’ll probably learn to love it.
For more than 20 years, Rick Broida has written about all manner of technology, from Amigas to business servers to PalmPilots. His credits include dozens of books, blogs, and magazines. He sleeps with an iPad under his pillow.