Google adds voice search on PCs to mapping

The Web search giant, chasing the holy grail of natural user interfaces, adds the ability to speak destination requests into computer microphones.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene

Pushing natural user interfaces one step farther, Google today added voice search to its mapping service.

Google Voice Search for maps lets users speak city names and route requests. Google

It's an incremental addition to Google Voice Search that the Web search giant announced in June. But the newly announced feature allows users to speak their destinations into a computer's microphone.

The idea is to make it easy to, for example, find a street map for a city that's hard to spell, such as Poughkeepsie, N.Y. And voice search also lets users find routes by saying, for example, "directions from Seattle to Portland."

Google's voice search technology is already an expected feature on mobile phones, available on handsets running Google's Android operating system as well as in an application for iPhones. But the company is pushing to bring so-called natural user interfaces--ones that don't involve a mouse and keyboard--to personal computing.

Google Voice Search for maps and for all the other personal computer functions launched in June only work inside a Chrome browser. And, for now, it only works in the United States and in English.