OK Google: Hands-free search debuts on Chrome Beta

No need to wash your hands of cookie dough if you forget how many ounces are in a cup while cooking. Google has integrated its hands-free search function, OK Google, into its new Chrome Beta.

By , Staff Writer

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    The question "how many ounces in a cup?" just went hands-free. Google has included voice search into its new Chrome Beta.
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Since Google first debuted its search engine in 1998, heading to Google and typing in a query to the search engine has been many Web surfers' first stop on the Internet.

Now Google wants you to forgo a key part of that process: typing.

On Thursday, Google released the new Chrome Beta that further pushes its hands-free search function, “OK Google.” The new beta version of the browser also offers more “supervised user” management (read: parental controls).

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“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,” says Google in a blog. “With the latest Chrome Beta, you can search by voice on Google—no typing, clicking or hand-washing required.” 

Google introduced ‘OK Google’ in November as a part of its regular search engine function. It was rolled out then with similar intentions – released just before Thanksgiving, the search-engine company pointed out that not having to wash your hands to type can make preparing a meal far easier.

This is the first time it has been rolled out as a built-in addition to Chrome, however. The version released in November was a Chrome extension.

English-language Chrome users running Windows, Mac, or Linux will be able to access the function over the next few days, and additional language support will be coming soon, Google says.

Here’s how it works: when you download the new Chrome, you’ll see a little microphone icon in the Google search box. Click on that icon and then click “Enable ‘Ok Google’”. When you say “OK Google” out loud, Google will search whatever you say after that statement.

Aside from searching, OK Google can be used to set alarms and set reminders using Google Now (“OK Google, remind me to pick up dessert at 6 p.m. tonight”).

In addition to hands-free searching, the new Google Chrome Beta also offers extended “supervised user” controls. Families can select one member to be a “supervised user” and then that user has the ability to manage what sites the other users can access. This update is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and will soon be available for Chromebooks, says Google. 

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