Google Assistant Voice Search on Chrome is Expanding to Android
Google Assistant is moving to replace the existing voice search function on the Android version of its Chrome web browser. A placeholder for switching out the voice search method has become active almost a year after it was first spotted, marking the newest territory for the voice assistant, which became part of the mobile Google app last year and started replacing voice search on desktop Chrome browsers earlier this year.
Those wishing to jump to Google Assistant just need to visit this link on their mobile Chrome browser and activate the Omnibox Assistant Voice Search. Once the browser is restarted, tapping the microphone button in the address bar will open a Google Assistant voice search interface, replacing the previous pop-up. The actual response is largely similar, with a Google search page and audio response. Chrome is by far the most popular web browser in the world, thanks in large part to Android devices, so the surprise is really just that it took this long for the feature to arrive.
Getting people to try Google Assistant by making it a part of Chrome on Android is an obvious way to encourage people to make the voice assistant a part of their lives. It’s the same premise of the “quick answers” Google started testing on Chrome in January that offers information about any selected text on a website using Google Assistant. Chrome leverages Google Assistant to find out more about the text, which is limited to Chromebook computers because it needs Google Assistant to be embedded. Whether that function could extend to Google’s Android platform isn’t clear. But, with Google working on a processor for future Pixel smartphones, it’s not impossible to imagine it as an extra enticement to potential customers.
Google Assistant wants to maintain a lead against not just its usual voice assistant rivals, but the specialized ones for browsers and websites that are starting to appear. Early experiments with a Mozilla Firefox voice assistant started running this year, portending a rivalry with Google, and Apple is continuing to improve and integrate Siri’s features into more iOS apps, which would help it compete with Android on at least one front. And Google Assistant’s presence on Chrome in Android may not always crowd out other options. For instance, individual websites can add their own voice assistants, designed in-house, or with platforms like speak2web, whose WordPress plugin for searching and shopping by voice within websites using indexed data makes them relatively intuitive.