Google is one step closer to bringing Google Now to computers thanks to a new voice search extension for its Chrome browser. The new Google Search Voice Hotword extension adds a simple but key feature to Chrome: Install it and you can say “OK Google” when on Google’s search page. Instead of having to tap a microphone button in the search bar — which you can still do — you can now speak your queries without a tap.
This feature is akin to what Google implemented in the latest versions of Android. In Android 4.4, you can speak the “OK Google” hotword and perform a Google query, for example. Similar to this Chrome extension, there is a limitation: You have to be on a home screen to make the magic happen. The Moto X has no such limitation as it is always listening for the hotword. The “OK Google” voice query is also present in the developer version of Google’s Chrome OS although you have to flip a switch to enable it.
While Google is positioning this as a search command, it’s already more powerful than that.
For example, after installing the new extension in Chrome on my Mac, I checked on my favorite NHL team by saying “OK Google, did the Devils win?” Instead of a standard search result, Chrome opened up a Google Now-like result of the Devils’ most recent game and then spoke this aloud: “No, the Devils lost to the Jets 3 to 1. They are playing the Hurricanes today at 7 pm.”
I was also able to get Google to recite my next scheduled appointment, the local weather and the time of the next Liverpool FC match though this method.
It doesn’t take a genius to see where Google is going here. It is unifying and improving the search experience between all of its products — Google Glass, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android — by using Google Now powered by voice as the glue. Call it intelligent search or a personal search assistant if you like. And don’t think this might be limited to traditional computing devices either. I can envision many connected objects that include a microphone so that Google voice search is the main interface. A connected car is a perfect example.
We’re not at that point yet, of course, but it seems to me like we’re heading down that road. And as a heavy user of Google voice search services, I’m enjoying the ride.