YouTube Adds Voice Commands for Search and Control to Website
YouTube has added voice controls for playback and searches directly to its website. The new feature is rolling out relatively quietly, without official notice from Google’s media hub seen with some of the recent Google Assistant voice integrations, but could be a big boon for YouTube binge-watchers.
Users can start issuing voice commands to search for videos by clicking on the microphone icon to the right of the search bar. Once the user gives permission to access the microphone on the computer, a box appears with the word ‘listening’ within, and any video playing will pause. The user says what they are looking for and are whisked away to the search results. Though not explicitly connected to Google Assistant, the AI is sophisticated enough to understand natural language. Asking it to show you videos about voice technology will lead to a search of just the term you intended.
The feature can also search through personal collections, pulling up watch histories and libraries, or gathering whatever the latest videos are from the channels the user subscribes to. If asked to show the latest videos from a specific channel, the voice search box will leap right to whatever video that is and start playing. Clicking on the microphone button in the box will pause or restart YouTube’s listening for search terms.
The entire feature is essentially the same as the voice search feature added to YouTube’s mobile app years ago. In some ways, it’s surprising it took so long for voice commands to expand to the website. It’s already been nearly half a year since Google Assistant started being able to play personal YouTube Music playlists. Voice commands on the website don’t seem to be related to the end of Google Play and a shift to YouTube Music, but it may be at least tangentially connected. Meanwhile, Google Assistant started replacing voice search on desktop Chrome browsers a year ago, expanding to Android in December.
Regardless of the reason, voice search for YouTube makes a lot of sense. It’s a platform that simultaneously encourages bingeing endless similar videos, especially of pets, while also making it easy to jump around nearly at random. And for kids who maybe struggle with spelling, voice controls might be their new favorite tool for finding their favorite toy unboxing video, assuming they have parental permission, of course.