Google has pushed out the latest beta version of its Chrome browser on Windows, Mac and Linux, and there’s one new feature in particular that’s worth talking about.

Or should that be ‘talking to’? 

“Ok Google” voice search has been available on Chrome for a little while by installing a separate extension from Google. Chromebook users on the dev channel are currently able to access the feature from the App Launcher.

But with today’s beta update it is now baked into the browser itself — no need for add-ons and no need to ‘activate’ it using a mouse.

Voice search is something that Google is betting big on, having already made it a key part of the Android operating system. That effort took another step forward yesterday, Feburary 26, when the company made their Google Now Launcher, which brings hands-free hot word voice search, to Nexus devices running Android 4.4 KitKat.

Ok Google Prompt Box

Enable Ok Google Voice Search in Chrome Beta

The caveat for now is that Voice Search in Chrome is limited to a) the US, and b) the English language. Google say that additional locales and language support are ‘coming soon’.

Assuming that you’ve updated to the latest beta, reside in the US and speak English you can enable hands-free voice searching in three simple steps:

  1. Open a new tab page (or go to if you use a non-default tab page)
  2. Click on the microphone icon in the search field
  3. Click ‘Enable “Ok Google”‘ in the prompt that appears

Now, when you open up a new tab or land on the Google homepage you can utter the famous “Ok Google” phrase, and the browser will listen to your searches, let you set timers or create reminders:

  • Search Google: “Ok Google, how old is Barack Obama”
  • Set a timer: “Ok Google, set a timer for 10 minutes”
  • Create a reminder: “Ok Google, remind me to check my e-mail at 9pm tonight”

Other Changes in Google Chrome 34 Beta

Voice search may be the shiny-shiny draw in this release but a few other changes are worth knowing about:

  • Support for responsive images
  • Support for unprefixed web audio
  • Supervised users can be imported onto new computers
  • A number of new apps/extension APIs

The release also boasts the usual soup of stability fixes, security updates and performance improvements.

Want to hop aboard the Beta bandwagon? You can find out more at the following link:

Download Google Chrome Beta

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