Jan 14, 2013

Will people use voice commands in browsers?

Just as the voices have faded away of people around my office asking their iPhone 4S and 5 inane things like, "What time is it," and "What is the weather like," and (I kid you not), "Remind me to take a nap at 7," I see that Google is going to integrate speech recognition into Chrome. How much of a demand for a browser that responds to voice commands is there really? I can understand it for emails, I suppose, should one be unable to master the art of typing, assuming that people are not in the office sending emails to their proctologist or whatever. I'm all in favor of progress, but we already have cultural blank spots when if comes to polite use of technology. Will people adopt the use of voice commands for their computers, or is this one of those things that will be neat for about 30 seconds then fade from use? I'm hoping for the latter (or the ability to shut if off administratively)!


You probably are forgetting that for some people, voice-activated systems are not a whimsical novelty, but a necessity -- or at minimum, an important tool -- due to physical limitations. This group includes not only those with limitations on their use of fingers, hands, and arms, but also those who have to limit the amount of time they spend sitting. Voice-activated systems also are a boon to those who have tremors (e.g., those with Parkinson's) or visual difficulties that impede their accuracy in typing or clicking. Many will have used some kind of third-party program or adaptation to make browsers more accessible, but the advantage here is that such programs would not be (as) necessary.

P.S. Please excuse the BIZARRE username -- when it offered the ability to sign in via my Twitter, it didn't tell me that doing so would result in an auto-assigned name I would not be permitted to customize at any point in the process!

I wouldn't bother to use it, but I'm a luddite when it comes to voice commands. I really don't like any of the apps or features I've seen, including Siri on my iOS devices. It just seems to take longer to use than it does to type in a quick search term into a browser.

So I'll pass on it.

I think you are viewing this through the lens of the workplace. In that situation, I agree with your reservations, but as Christopher said, it would actually be pretty handy when you are hanging at the homestead.


Yes, people will. How many is to be determined, but speech recognition will be a standard feature in all browsers soon enough. I'm sure users will be able to shut off the feature. In a work or public environment, browser speech recognition obviously would introduce problems, but it would be great at home.

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