Cortana voice commands

Microsoft pushes voice commands and notifications to the PC as Google dumps them

One of the nicer features of Windows 10 s the abillity to dictate reminders to Cortana while doing something else. But are users actually doing so? Image: IDGNS

19 October 2015

Google’s choice to eliminate voice search and a notifications centre from its latest Chrome browser probably means one of two things for PC users: either Microsoft’s own Windows 10 features have won, or Microsoft never should have added them in the first place.

Google’s Chrome 46 eliminates the notification centre Google installed in the browser in 2013, simply because users never actually used it. And VentureBeat noticed that Chrome for Windows has done away with the OK Google voice trigger, which allowed users to search by voice within the browser – features have been built into Windows 10.

In the taskbar’s system tray, a new Action Centre archives all sorts of things, including e-mail, calendar reminders, and more. And provided Cortana is enabled and the PC includes a decent microphone, users can either say “Hey Cortana” or tap the mic button to trigger a search, set a reminder, or more.

Google didn’t explain why it eliminated voice search, but it did say that the notification center simply wasn’t being used. “[I]n practice, few users visit the notification centre,” Google said in a blog post. “To keep Chrome simple, it will be removed from Windows, Mac, and Linux in the upcoming release. The notification center on Chrome OS will remain unchanged.”

What Google does shouldn’t affect Microsoft directly. But it’s an indication that consumers may not be warming to two features Microsoft touted as among the selling points of Windows 10.

However, Google hasn’t eliminated notifications and voice search entirely from Chrome – it’s just that they require a bit more effort to use. For one thing, Chrome will still allow a website to send notifications to your browser. Notifications slide in from the lower right, as usual. It’s just that now, if you miss them, Google won’t have a repository where you can catch up whatever you missed.

Google presumably could integrate those notifications with the notifications centers built into Windows 10 and Mac OS X, although the company hasn’t said whether or not it will.

Likewise, users can still search via voice by visiting the page and clicking the mic button. (Previously, voice search would work on almost any page, provided that Google was your search provider.) Users can also orally search via their phones, and notifications will slide in on Android phones as they normally do. And if you use a Chromebook powered by Google’s Chrome OS, none of these changes should affect you: you’ll still see the notifications center and have access to voice search.

IDG News Service

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