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May 16, 2013

Google Wants Your Computer to Talk Back to You

Chrome, Knowledge Graph, Google Now Get Updates

Your laptop or desktop computer will soon be able to talk to you.

Google is bringing enhanced voice search to Chrome and Chrome OS to give users the same experience they now receive with Google Now on Smartphones or tablets — asking spoken queries and receiving an audible answer.

“People communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords — and we’ve been hard at work to make Google understand and answer your questions more like people do,” said Amit Singhal, senior vice-president and software engineer at Google.

“Already, you can tap a mic, talk to Google in a more natural way and get responses spoken back to you on Android, iPhone, and iPad devices.”

Google image

Google image

Google previewed how this conversational experience will work in Chrome at its I/O conference in San Francisco May 15.

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.

Google image

Google image

Chrome is not the only recipient of a major upgrade, however.

Knowledge Graph

Google is also working to improve Knowledge Graph, its map of real-world people, places and things, to ensure users receive “smarter” answers to their questions.

For instance, if a user asks “what is the population of Canada?” Google will answer the question as well as potential follow-up questions.

“In a single card, you’ll see how Canada’s population changed over time — and a comparison with California and Australia,” Singhal said.

The update also included smarter search in Polish, Turkish, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Google Now

Reminders have been added to Google Now so users will remember the right information exactly when they need to.

“With the new reminders in Now, not only can you save things to remember later, but you can actually pick a time or place to trigger those reminders, so they pop up at just the right time,” Singhal said. “And the best part is, you can create some of these reminders with just your voice.”

The feature, for instance, can remind a user as he leaves work to stop at the grocery store for milk and bread. It can give reminders about when the train leaves and how much time the user needs to get there. It can even remind a user when that movie he has been dying to see is playing at his local cinema and give recommendations on other movies he might like.

“With just the tap of a mic or flick of a finger, millions of people across the world can easily tap into the entire world’s knowledge and find what they need to make their lives better, or just have their day run a little smoother,” Singhal said. “That’s why we’re so excited about the new search experience we’re building at Google and it will change how we experience life.”