New Beta of Google Chrome Embraces Speech Input

by Sam Dean - Mar. 24, 2011Comments (0)

Is voice input the next Holy Grail for browsers? Browsers have consistently introduced new interface models since their inception, but most of them have depended on traditional keyboard- and mouse-based input. However, the latest beta of Google Chrome, version 11, includes support for the HTML 5 speech input API, which allows for speech input and speech-to-text applications that could have a big impact on how text and data work within browsers.

Since it first arrived--significantly later than Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox did--Google Chrome has pushed many innovation envelopes. Google officials stated when originally challenged about why the company should deliver a browser, that existing browsers simply weren't innovating fast enough. Now, in a post, Google engineer Satish Sampath notes that talking to computers may have a bright future:

"Today, we’re updating the Chrome beta channel with a couple of new capabilities, especially for web developers. Fresh from the work that we’ve been doing with the HTML Speech Incubator Group, we’ve added support for the HTML speech input API. With this API, developers can give web apps the ability to transcribe your voice to text. When a web page uses this feature, you simply click on an icon and then speak into your computer’s microphone. The recorded audio is sent to speech servers for transcription, after which the text is typed out for you. Try it out yourself in this little demo."

It's good to see Google pursuing new browser ideas like this one. While the innovations in Chrome have been widely noticed, it is less common for users to realize that these innovations lift the quality of all popular browsers. Mozilla, for example, has moved to a rapid release cycle for Firefox directly in response to the machine-gun releases that Google Chrome gets. 

Internet News has taken Chrome's new voice-to-text features for a spin and says they are not yet perfect, but promising. "The potential for this technology is staggering," they conclude. Look for other browser makers to quickly head in this direction.


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