If the engineers at Google are correct, a budding new capability in the Chrome web browser will transform the way we interact with web apps. The recently-released Chrome 25 Beta is the first to offer native support for speech recognition, a natural user interface (NUI) that may ultimately be far more important than multi-touch.
Google has posted a decidedly nerdy video demonstrating this capability, but the uses for this are pretty cool: Dragon Naturally Speaking-style voice control, such as the ability to dictate an email in a web-based mail solution, or a word processing doc in an office productivity service.
In a separate announcement, Google noted that the Web Speech API in Chrome 25 Beta would open up a wellspring of speech-enable web apps. I think they’re right. This is going to be a big deal. I can’t wait to pick up my mouse and say, “Chrome, on!” like Scotty in “Star Trek 4.” You know, ironically.
Chrome 25 Beta also sports another, unrelated, advance: It automatically disables some extensions that may were added by third party programs without proper acknowledgement from users, and will prevent this kind of silent extension install going forward. A notification will appear with the option to re-enable the affected extensions, Google says.
I’ve seen some chatter about the version numbering in Chrome, because some people can’t understand why anyone would want to version software differently than we did in the 1990s. But Chrome is updated like a web service, and this practice will become more and more common going forward. Yes, even at Microsoft.