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Desktop and laptop Chrome OS gets ‘always on’ voice feature

Desktop and laptop Chrome OS gets ‘always on’ voice feature

Google has introduced an ‘always on’ voice control feature for users of its Chrome internet browser.

The facility will let users conduct hands-free searches from Google.com by simply saying ‘Okay Google’ and following the command with their search term.

Now released for laptop and desktop systems, the service is already available for the web giant’s series of Nexus 5 smartphones, among other mobile devices using its operating system.

Saying ‘Okay Google’ at any point will begin a new search.

The news follows last month’s release of the KitKat operating system, which gives a much greater prominence to the ‘always on’ approach.

It was first introduced with the Google Glass device, which is activated with the term ‘Okay Glass’.

The feature has been noted in a number of other devices outside the scope of Google’s core mobile products. For example, the Moto X, which launched to overseas markets back in August, has a microphone that listens permanently for the user to say ‘Okay Google now’, which brings the device out of sleep mode and makes it search-ready.

Highlighting the topic of users increasingly favouring a more organic approach to browsing the web, checking social media news feeds and scrolling through auction sites, Google suggested in May that, in the future, computers will be able to understand natural language – and will even be able to speak back to humans.

In a post on the Google blog, software engineer Amit Singhal used questions about the weather as an example, explaining that users will easily be able to follow up their initial queries with additional questions related to the same topic.

Richard Bell

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