As we all know, it’s pretty simple to use your voice to order your phone around, whether you’re saying something to Siri or demanding something from Google Now. And it’s something that Google wants to expand with a Chrome extension. But how’s it work? Not quite to the degree that you’d think.
OK, Google, Search “Inconvenient”
It has to be said that you can’t argue with the price; this extension, for Chrome 31 and up, is absolutely free. Just install it and you’ll be able to run it at any time, just by opening a new tab and saying “OK Google.” Well, that’s the theory. The reality is a bit different.
The simple fact of the matter, as anybody using Google Now can attest, is that Google Now is kind of deaf. Because I’m a snarky individual, I used the plug-in to search for “Luddite”, both for the connotations and because it’s a term that’s easy to misunderstand even in a quiet room.
The results were embarrassing. In a quiet room, I had to pronounce the word phonetically after trying it three times to get the results I wanted, decidedly not natural speaking. In an enviroment with the TV on? Forget it. I tried the extension on my Lenovo laptop and my Acer desktop, with varying levels and types of noise, and kept running into the same problem, over and over again.
You Get What You Pay For
I want to emphasize that, technologically speaking, this is still pretty impressive for what it is. That speech recognition technology has gotten to this point is amazing if you’ve been following it as it’s grown and expanded. That said, you do get what you pay for and while this extension is undeniably neat, and a hint at what the future holds, it’s still very much a work in progress.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.