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Google Launches Voice Search Hotword Extension For Chrome

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the always-listening dept.

Chrome 54

An anonymous reader writes "Google has launched the Google Voice Search Hotword extension for Chrome, bringing the 'OK Google' feature to the desktop. You can download the new tool, currently in beta, now directly from the Chrome Web Store. Android users with version 4.4 KitKat will recognize the feature: it lets you talk to Google without first clicking or typing. It's completely hands-free, provided you're already on Google.com: just say 'OK Google' and then ask your question." Quick, someone wire Pocketsphinx up to Firefox, or integrate Simon into Krunner.

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Welp, (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year ago | (#45537475)

I wonder if it'll have more PC-centric voice actions? Time to get a mic for my PC.

Now google can oogle to your conversations (3, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about a year ago | (#45537539)

Just as google reads all your e-mail, not just what you search for, to "help you" get better advertising. they will no doubt listen to everything you say, not just what you search for, in order to improve their service to you. It's all about you.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45537705)

Yeah, as tin-foil hattish as it is, my first though was "what, and give Google even more data, hell no".

I don't trust that it won't be listening when it's not supposed to, or that it won't be misusing that data.

I still use some Google stuff, but I'm increasingly treating them like they're an entity I would rather keep at arms length these days.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (2)

BobMcD (601576) | about a year ago | (#45537809)

I agree, and this is also why I tend to unplug my Kinect when I'm not using it (or keep the Xbox powered down).

Plus there's the whole 'turn it on by remote' thing, like the Feds do to mobsters via Onstar.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45537859)

I agree, and this is also why I tend to unplug my Kinect when I'm not using it (or keep the Xbox powered down).

That's why my Xbox got disconnected from the network. As soon as I started seeing ads and realized MS was using the network connection for their own benefit, it has never seen the network since.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45540757)

I use Bing for all of my searches now for this reason.

Re: Now google can oogle to your conversations (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about a year ago | (#45543635)

And Bing is better because it is those nice trustworthy people at Microsoft who are watching everything you search for ?!?

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45537721)

Google's programs also read my email to extract addresses, package delivery information, pictures and present them to me nicely on the side of the email.
Also, at many email providers the employees can accidentally read your email. At Google they have some kind of rot13 in place so that when the engineers are debugging something on the analyzer or checking file system issues they don't accidentally read somebody's email.
I am not saying they are perfect but they do realize that they need to be trustworthy and have put some effort into deserving the trust.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45537945)

and if the automated filters detect porn, they apply double Rot 13 for extra protection.

Re:Now google can oogle to your conversations (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45544077)

they will no doubt listen to everything you say, not just what you search for

I strongly doubt that, and it is really easy to test. Install the extension and monitor your network traffic. I predict that what you'll see is that the hotword recognition is performed locally, and nothing is sent to Google until after you say the hotword and speak your query -- exactly the same way it's done on phones.

Do you really think Google would dare try to sneak something like that past all the privacy scrutiny focused on them, even assuming they want to?

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but don't have any inside knowledge of how this extension works. The above is my own opinions and not an official statement.)

Re:Welp, (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#45537775)

I hope not. For the most part on my PC, I want the speaker off, and the microphone off. I Don't really want to talk out loud to my computer.

OK Google (1)

amalcolm (1838434) | about a year ago | (#45537517)

When will this work with Firefox (or IE, etc. etc.)?

Re:OK Google (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#45539311)

Opera had it 9 years ago :) called it Opera Voice.

Re:OK Google (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about a year ago | (#45540683)

Judging by the Chromecast extension to Chrome: never. Google is busy building their very own walled garden.

So They're Always listenening? (3, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#45537525)

"...it lets you talk to Google without first clicking or typing."

EFF has been sending out stickers to cover cameras on devices. Let's hope they start sending out little cotton balls to plug mics.

Re:So They're Always listenening? (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | about a year ago | (#45537805)

And, if one browser plugin can listen to the microphone.... well then any of them can. Look for a new wave of spyware, coming your way soon!

Re:So They're Always listenening? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#45539387)

I seem to recall a lot of people got up in arms when it came out that the new X-Box would always have its camera and microphone turned on... and I would hope people, at this point, don't trust Google any more than they trust Microsoft.

Re:So They're Always listenening? (1)

m1ss1ontomars2k4 (1302833) | about a year ago | (#45539463)

Actually, that's not true at all. A while back, François Beaufort noted that the extension had been preemptively whitelisted so that it alone doesn't repeatedly need explicit permission to use the microphone. Usually, any website or extension that wants to use the microphone must ask the user for it at least once, repeatedly if the site doesn't use HTTPS. See here: https://plus.google.com/100132233764003563318/posts/YRq7NrS5waS [google.com]

(The ilnk is messed up; the actual diff of interest is here: https://src.chromium.org/viewvc/chrome/trunk/src/chrome/browser/media/media_capture_devices_dispatcher.cc?r1=225124&r2=226242&pathrev=226242 [chromium.org] )

Re:So They're Always listenening? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45538657)

I am going to design and build an add-on called "mr. sine wave". it listens for your 'ok, give google the sine!' and then connects the mic wire to a +4db level of 60hz sine.

I often forget the words and so I just hum along, anyway...

No. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45537543)

I don't want to talk to my computer.

First search (3, Funny)

goldaryn (834427) | about a year ago | (#45537547)

"Google, where has my keyboard gone?"

Re:First search (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#45538783)

Press any key to continue

Re:First search (2)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#45539243)

But there is no Any key

"OK Google" for iphone with google app (2)

clay_shooter (1680300) | about a year ago | (#45537559)

You can also do this with the "google" application for iphone. They added in one of the last updates.

Re:"OK Google" for iphone with google app (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45539637)

why search with the google app when you can just use siri? seriously, who goes to a separate app for searching? that's balls.

Re:"OK Google" for iphone with google app (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45539863)

How about people who can't have Siri on their iPhone because Apple won't enable it for older devices?

Re:"OK Google" for iphone with google app (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45540399)

Maybe older devices are too slow.

Re:"OK Google" for iphone with google app (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45542523)

Too slow to record audio and send it to a server? The voice recognition isn't done on the device itself.

No. NO! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45537583)

Every day you have to hear the idiots with the cell phones on speaker phone while holding it in front of their face.

The last thing I need at the damn office is to hear a whole bunch of "Okay Google"

Fuck that. Quit being so god damn lazy and TYPE it in!

Re: No. NO! (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#45537717)

Also, it doesn't really work as advertised IMO, I still need to hit the home button to get it to work (for me at least it doesn't work when not on home ), so I may as well tap the microphone too.

OK Google, stop recording everything I say (1)

StoutFiles (2471680) | about a year ago | (#45537857)

I bet the mic is always on and always recording. If they hear a dog in the background I bet I'll get ads targeted to dogs.

Re:OK Google, stop recording everything I say (1)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about a year ago | (#45537927)

5 will get you 10 on that bet. Does it hear kids? How about a bird/cat/other pet? Does it hear a baby crying?

Never in an office (1)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about a year ago | (#45537911)

If anyone at my work dares to use this and start disrupting everyone else, all you need to do is run up to their mic and say " OK Google, Search Images for Donkey Penis, Open First 100 links" After the 3rd time, they might get the hint.

Re:Never in an office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45538383)

If your office has an overhead speaker paging system, blast "OK Google, Search Images for Donkey Penis, Open First 100 links" the whole office and then sit back and watch the fun.

already done (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | about a year ago | (#45538163)

#!/bin/sh
# Brad Conroy's public domain speech processing tool (lite version)
computer(){
    case $1 in
        open)shift; which $1 && $@ || text2speech "I can't find that program.";;
        disregard)exit;;
        *)text2speech "I can't handle the $@ command yet.";;
    esac
}

pocketsphinx_continuous $SOMERANDOMOPTIONS |while read ROW COMMAND ARGS; do
case "$ROW$COMMAND" in
    [0-9]*:computer)$COMMAND $ARGS;;
    [0-9]*:dictate)[ "$DICTATE" ] && DICTATE="" || DICTATE=true ;;
    [0-9]*:*)[ "$DICTATE" ] && echo $COMMAND $ARGS >>$HOME/dictations
esac
done

I'd use it... (2)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#45538239)

... if I worked from home or had a private office.

As it is, in an open-plan office, I don't want to disturb my colleagues, or feed them a constant stream of what I'm searching for.

However, I've only just started using voice on my Nexus 4. I'd simply assumed it wouldn't work well enough, but I gave it a go when I wanted to send a text in a hurry -- and was astonished to find that it *faultlessly* transcribed "I'm on my way. If I'm not there in ten minutes avenge my death", spoken at full speed.

So since then I've checked out the full range of voice instructions, and plenty of them are useful.

Re:I'd use it... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45538441)

I've started using it too, as it's a lot quicker than typing, sometimes, even with Swype. It's lot flawless, but it's pretty damn good.

Re:I'd use it... (1)

Krymzn (1812686) | about a year ago | (#45539113)

It works with a West of Scotland accent spoken at full speed, though I've only tested it in a fairly quiet environment. That is impressive!

Re:I'd use it... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45539657)

what's west of scotland? newfoundland?

Re:I'd use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45539885)

China.

Re:I'd use it... (1)

Krymzn (1812686) | about a year ago | (#45541453)

Scotland in the UK. Where your scotch comes from, pal.

Re:I'd use it... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45542687)

yes but what's west of there? surely it's the atlantic ocean, then canada

Re:I'd use it... (4, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | about a year ago | (#45538797)

I agree. The voice-to-text is remarkably good: definitely at the point that it has become a tool and not just a toy. (I won't say that it never makes mistakes, but it's accurate enough that you can dictate a text message and only have to make a small number of fixes, making it overall faster in many cases.) The Google Now features also work well (asking relatively free-form questions).

However, the 'embarrasement factor' still looms large: I don't want to use the functionality where it might disturb other people (e.g. at work), and I'm even self-conscious using it when walking around in public. (Yes, it remains ironic that we feel weird talking into our phones.) I also avoid using when my wife is in a nearby room, because of the "What did you say? Are you talking to me?" factor. And of course, I usually don't want to broadcast my activities for all to hear. As a result, I'm not conditioned to use the feature, and I forget to use it even in cases where it would make sense (e.g. home alone).

I guess what I'm saying is that the adoption of these technologies might well be more limited by social convention, rather than limitations in the tech itself. I'm not sure if this is an intrinsic aspect of humanity (that on average people don't like talking to technology, despite what sci-fi has long predicted), or whether this is purely generational, and the next batch of users will be completely comfortable speaking commands to their computers/phones/etc. (in which case, the tech will no doubt have to improve; e.g. in order to only respond to the assigned user's voice).

Re:I'd use it... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45539145)

As it is, in an open-plan office, I don't want to disturb my colleagues, or feed them a constant stream of what I'm searching for.

However, I've only just started using voice on my Nexus 4. I'd simply assumed it wouldn't work well enough, but I gave it a go when I wanted to send a text in a hurry -- and was astonished to find that it *faultlessly* transcribed "I'm on my way. If I'm not there in ten minutes avenge my death", spoken at full speed.

So since then I've checked out the full range of voice instructions, and plenty of them are useful.

And playing around with a Nexus 5 that a coworker got, I too discovered that I can drop "Ok... Google..." during a regular conversation and trigger it.

So in an open plan office, if the phone is at the home screen, you can have it do all sorts of interesting things by just muttering out loud. "OK Google, read last text" or other commands.

We had initially assumed that it was voice-specific, as he couldn't get it to trigger (the phone was on his desk beside him) while I was a cube away talking to him (an empty cube sat between us) and it triggered for me.

Makes you wonder if the Chrome version can use "I'm Feeling Lucky". Would be fun for the office tool who shows off his use of it in an open-plan office.

Google is not holding a gun to your head (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about a year ago | (#45538539)

You don't like it? Don't install it. Don't install Chrome for that matter. You want all the nice free services and excellent search, but don't feel like paying for it? Go start your own search engine. Everyone seems to expect free services but everyone balks when a company tries to make a profit from it. Newsflash, THEY ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS! Google may or may not be evil. But they certainly aren't stupid.

Re:Google is not holding a gun to your head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45539185)

They will if you start your own search engine. Are you that naive that you think the barrier to entry on search is even remotely within the realm of some basement start-up? Do you honestly think you can still spider the web for links while respecting robots.txt? Many sites block all but the known search engines. That means you're SOL if you want to start a new one without some kind of spontaneous kumbaya event that ignores the existence of overly aggressive chinese crawlers among other countless factors. Are you suggestion we bring back the submit-your-url model? You'll need lawyers in every country at this point and don't forget about the team of folks to comply with take down notices and other fun things. My guess you'll end up bankrupt, in jail or both before you have an even half way viable product. Too cynical and pessimistic?

Google Voice Search (1)

f0rk b0mb (3442723) | about a year ago | (#45539205)

It's actually pretty neat. If your hands aren't free at the time, just talk to your computer. Very cool!

Until I can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45539451)

Until I can walk up to a computer and say "Computer! Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" and actually receive said tea, I'm not interested. Wake me up when the holodeck is a reality. Everything else is too incremental and boring.

I got bored with the Commodore 128 in the early 80s and moved on to other OSs. Moved to Windows, then UNIX, then Linux, now BSD. Getting bored with computers, programming, and IT in general. What's next? Mobile is boring and I have what many consider to be a great mobile, but it's boring, plethora of apps aside. I think people need to get out more...

Re:Until I can... (1)

weilawei (897823) | about a year ago | (#45544369)

What if you get stuck with a toaster who really really just wants to make you some toast? Perhaps even a briefly hyperintelligent toaster... ;) What, no Red Dwarf fans?

Frist 57op... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45539555)

OUTER SPACE ThE

Hands Free? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#45539575)

How is it hands free if I have to launch Chrome and turn on the voice recognition bits?

Same goes for my Android phone. I have to launch Google Now by holding the Menu "button" before it'll listen to me. It doesn't work if the phone is:

1: Asleep and locked
2: Asleep and unlocked
3: Awake with another program in the foreground
4: Awake and at a home screen page
5: Awake and at the default home screen page
6: Awake and at the default home screen page with the Google search widget loaded

You HAVE hold the Menu "button" to get to Google Now to get it to listen to you. (Or tap the microphone icon on the Google search widget.)
It's not hands free and it shouldn't be billed as such. Yet all the commercials show people with their phone on their desk while they give their mocha skinned girlfriend a sensual massage, and all it takes to get shit done is talking. Am I missing something? How can I get my phone (Galaxy Note 2) to behave in such a manner?

Re:Hands Free? (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#45540537)

For most android phones, yes you do have to be in the Google Search app to use the voice functionality. However, in regards to the commercial you specified, that is the "Moto X" and it indeed follows voice commands even when the phone is asleep.

The Moto X has a low-power core that is always running and keeping the sensors awake, so it can do stuff like respond to movement or the "OK Google" command when it's asleep.

Whose desktop? (1)

whitroth (9367) | about a year ago | (#45539913)

CERTAINLY not the ones at work, since most of us have a) cubes, where we can hear a lot of what our co-workers are saying, and just try to block it out - can google deal with *that*?; b) those living in "open plan" offices, which means it would be completely unusable.

                  mark
--
Why voice computing will never come into the workplace:
      Just fired employee, walking out of HR: START! RUN! FORMAT C:, YES, YES, YES!!!!!

Slightly less embarrassing slang version (1)

asdaq67 (621227) | about a year ago | (#45541699)

Works just fine to say "OK Goo" as well.
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