Is it possible to do Google searches through voice input on my computer? My sister is a terrible typist and gets very frustrated while searching for information and I’m tempted to buy a dictation system to help her out. But is there just an easy way to speak and have Google search?
Voice recognition is definitely a big topic for a lot of system developers as it’s gained in popularity through mobile use. You know what I mean, I’m talking about Apple’s “Siri” on its mobile iOS devices, and third-party apps like “Iris” and “Skyvi” for Android phones. Turns out that there’s also some voice recognition built into Microsoft Windows 8 (look in the help system for “speech recognition”) and even in Mac OS X 10.8 and above (look for “Dictation & Speech” in your Control Panels).
But even better news: Google actually includes speech recognition as part of its Google Chrome browser, and if you have your computer set up properly with a microphone and speakers — and just about every laptop has those ready to go, at least — then there’s no configuration involved.
The trick is to be in the right browser in the first place, because it’s a Chrome only feature that Google automatically detects.
On my Mac system, when I go to Google.com in Google Chrome, here’s what I see:
But the very same URL in Apple’s Safari browser looks like this:
What’s the difference? The tiny microphone icon on the right side of the input box. You need to look closely to see it.
That’s the secret to voice input for Google searches in Chrome. Click on it and the browser is “listening”:
At this point, all you need to do is talk and it’ll automatically parse and interpret what you say, turning it into an actual search request.
To test it, I asked for the “ground speed of an unlaiden swallow” and…
Nice. It not only got the phrase I searched for exactly right in its search, but the search result got it exactly right putting the Internet Movie Database as the #1 match. And to the query, the answer is, of course, “African or European?”
Be that as it may, as you can see, using Google Chrome, it’s actually quite easy to use speech recognition for searches on your system, which will hopefully help your sister!