In May 2013, we reported on a talk given by Google's Amit Singhal about a new feature the search engine was working on that allowed a user to prompt a voice search on desktop simply by saying, "OK Google." In his talk, Singhal marveled at the fact that his childhood dream of building machines you could talk to – and that would answer back – was coming true.
But back in May, voice-activated search on desktop, aka "hot-wording," was not quite ready. Now, almost a year later, we've seen Google's infrastructure change released in Hummingbird, which undoubtedly primed the search engine for this feature.
On Thursday, Google announced voice search for desktop is going live. From Google's announcement:
If you've ever tried to cook and search at the same time—say, when your hands are covered in flour and you need to know how many ounces are in a cup—you know it can be tricky. With the latest Chrome Beta, you can search by voice on Google—no typing, clicking or hand-washing required. Simply open a new tab or visit Google.com in Chrome, say "Ok Google," and then start speaking your search. This will be rolled out to English (U.S.) users on Windows, Mac and Linux over the next few days, with support for additional languages and Chrome OS coming soon.
You can get started with voice search on Chrome by simply heading to Google's home page and enabling the extension.
You do have to give permission to allow sites to access your video camera and microphone. If you're concerned about privacy, there are some advanced settings that you may want to read twice.
Back at the Google search bar, the microphone icon indicates if it's ready or not for you to begin your voice search:
Since it is in beta, Google has anticipated kinks and given tips for troubleshooting in its help files, here.