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Say 'OK Google' for hands-free holiday searching

OK Google, let's get searching. With the holidays around the corner, Google has introduced a voice-activated search extension for Chrome, a welcome innovation for anyone who wants to keep sticky fingers off the keyboard without sacrificing Google search.

By / November 27, 2013

Google's new Chrome extension "Ok Google" offers hands-free voice search just in time for the holidays.

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Google has created a voice search application, just in time for that moment when your hands are covered in turkey stuffing and you can’t remember exactly how much stuffing you're supposed to stuff inside the bird.

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On Tuesday, Google introduced “Ok Google,” a Chrome extension that offers Google search via voice. It is pegged as a hands-free way to search while you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, though helpful for any time you don’t want to touch your keys with sticky fingers.

“This year, rather than stopping midway through to wash your hands and type in a search, you can just speak to your laptop: ‘Ok Google, how many ounces are in one cup?’” says a post from the company on Google+ Wednesday.

Here’s how it works. After downloading the free extension “Google Voice Search Hotword” from the Google Chrome Store and giving Chrome permission to access your computer’s microphone, you’ll see a “Say Ok Google” notice on the Google.com search bar. Once you say the command, the search engine should recognize your voice, and a small microphone will appear along the search bar.

Ask whatever you would like to search starting with the words “Ok Google” and Google will type what you say before searching. If the microphone next to the search bar is gray, that means it is listening, if it is outlined then it is turned off to save battery. The default setting is to “listen” for five minutes, then shut off if there is no activity.

The extension also will set reminders and calendar events for you. For example, if you say “Set a timer for 45 minutes,” it will let you know when to take the pie out of the oven. However, keep in mind that the Google.com tab has to be open and active in order for the application to work, though you can also do a voice search from an open search results page.

The app is already available on certain Google-supported Android devices, but it is in beta mode online. It’s also only available in English and in the United States.

Google’s search engine turned 15 earlier this year, so it is likely Google is looking to shake up its offering in order to stay on top of the Internet search game. Regardless of Google’s higher motivations, a hands-free search will likely be a welcome tech innovation for any holiday kitchen.

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