May 22, 2013
Google Launches Chrome 27 for a 'Faster Browsing Experience'
Google previewed how this conversational experience works in Chrome at its I/O conference in San Francisco May 15.
This new, enhanced voice search gives users the same experience they now receive with Google Now on Smartphones or tablets — asking spoken queries and receiving an audible answer.
To start a ‘conversation,’ the user must first click on the microphone icon in the search box, then ask a question. The spoken query appears on the screen and then Google answers. Subsequent queries can be made using the “OK, Google” initiation that the company uses for making Glass receptive to voice commands. The “OK Google” phrase must be used to fire up Chrome so it is ready to answer queries.
For instance, a user, hands-free, will be able to ask: “OK Google, will it be sunny in Boston this weekend?” and receive a spoken answer. The, user can then ask follow-up questions such as: “how far is it from here?” to receive directions and travel time.
During the I/O conference, Google vice-president of search and assist mobile Johanna Wright gave a live demonstration of the conversational search feature. As an example, she pretended she was planning a day-trip to Santa Cruz with her family.
“OK Google, show me things to do in Santa Cruz,” Wright asked the computer.
The computer responded with, “Your popular attractions in Santa Cruz” along with a traditional layout of top hits a user would receive when typing a query.
“What you see here is coming from our Knowledge Graph,” Wright explained. “Knowledge Graph knows Santa Cruz is a place and that this list of places are related to Santa Cruz.”
Next she asked the computer to show her pictures of the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
“Here you go. Some pictures related to the Santa Cruz boardwalk,” Google responded, displaying multiple images as well as information about the site.
Google has also made the new feature smart enough to answer vague questions based on previous queries.
So when Wright asked: “OK Google, how far is it from here,” Google understood “here” was Wright’s present location and “it” was the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
To see the feature in action, check out the YouTube video below.
Conversational search is compatible only with Chrome 27, which Google released Tuesday (May 21).
Last month’s Chrome Beta release enabled Web pages to load five percent faster on average. Those optimizations have been included in this week’s Chrome Stable release “so all users will enjoy a faster browsing experience,” said software engineer James Simonsen.
“A five percent improvement may not seem like much by itself, but our estimates show that when you add up those saved seconds across all Chrome users, it totals to more than 510 years of people’s time saved every week,” Simonsen said in a blog post.
The update also includes easier-to-use HTML5 calendar forms and updates to developer tools and the Omnibox’s search result rankings.
Chrome 27 is compatible with Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems.