Most of us look online whenever we want to find something out. Specifically speaking, we go to Google. It's the world's most popular search engine by far and is also the single most visited website. If you want to find something out, you simply type out a word, phrase or question, and a series of relevant results appears.
In recent years, a big innovation has come along that's introduced a new way to use Google, and that is Google Voice Search. It's a program that enables you to make searches without typing - instead, you simply use your voice and your device will recognise your speech and carry out the search for you.
Google Voice Search has been around for over six years now, having launched back in May, 2012. It was initially known as Voice Action and was a Google Labs tool available on various Android devices. Its purpose was to enable people to make Google searches by making a phone call. Smartphone users would call the number (650) 623-6706, then, on hearing the automated reply ‘Say your search keywords', they would say what their search was. The smartphone would then launch a page with the search results on it. This particular feature has since been shut down, with the more advanced version, Google Voice Search, taking its place.
The current version of Google Voice Search officially launched on 30 October, 2012, with the release of Google Search's new app for iOS devices. The key difference between the original and the updated version is that the updated one does away with the phone line. During its first phase, the only language available was US English. Over the years, more and more languages; even more were introduced following the success of the more recent version of the program in 2012. Nowadays, there are more than 50 languages and 20 recognised dialects the program recognises, including British English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian, to name a few.
It couldn't be easier to use Google Voice Search. If you're on a desktop computer, simply head to Google and at the right-hand side of the search bar, you'll see a blue and red microphone icon. Simply click or tap on this, then hit Allow when your device asks you for permission to use the microphone. Once permission has been granted, you'll be taken to a page with the words Speak Now on it. Simply speak out loud your query and the program will carry out the search for you. If for some reason your speech wasn't fully understood, simply hit Try Again and say it out loud once more. The results that come up from your query should be the same as if you'd typed the query out into the search bar.
If you're using a smartphone or tablet, you'll have to download the Google app to use this feature. For iPhones and iPads, open the app up and tap on Settings or your photo. Then simply tap Voice Search to activate the feature; you can also change the language and adjust the settings so that the Voice Search feature launches whenever you say ‘Ok Google'. When you're ready to make a search using your voice, you can say ‘Ok Google' followed by your query, or you can tap Speak and then say your query.
For Android devices, again start off by opening up the app. Then, tap Menu in the bottom right of the screen, then Settings, then Voice and finally Voice Match. You can choose when you want your phone to listen to what you're saying once you've said ‘Ok Google'. Once you've got the feature enabled, to make a search simply go to the app and either say ‘Ok Google' followed by your query, or tap the microphone icon and then say what your query is.
It's worth pointing out that over the last few years, Google has been gradually phasing out the Google Voice Search feature and replacing it with Google Assistant. The main reason for this is that Google Assistant has a much broader range of functions. Obviously, it has voice recognition technology and can carry out voice searches just like Google Voice Search, though it can do so much more, since it's a fully fledged virtual assistant, not just a program for voice searches. Some of the many things it can do include engaging in two-way conversations, adjust your device's hardware settings, schedule alarms and events, send messages, make appointments, open other apps and read out notifications.
If your device has Google Assistant already installed, this is what you'll get when you follow the steps listed above. If not, you should still have the original Google Voice Search program. It's looking like the plan is for Google Assistant to eventually replace Google Voice Search on all apps.
So why use Google Voice Search, or the more recent Google Assistant, when you can just type your search out? The main benefit of this technology is that it offers a quicker, more convenient way for you to carry out a search if you can't or don't want to type it out yourself. All you have to do is speak and the search is carried out for you. Setting it up on your device is simple enough and actually using it is straightforward and uncomplicated.
It's a handy tool to use and it's worth trying out if you haven't given it a go already. Voice recognition has become more advanced in the last few years and more and more people have started using it regularly. In the near future, there's a good chance that we won't' have to use our physical keyboards and touchscreen keyboards as much as we do today, all thanks to the technology behind Google Voice Search and other similar tools.