Users who like talking to their computers are in for some disappointing news. Google has removed the ability to activate a voice search on a desktop computer by simply saying "OK Google."
The removal of the feature comes with the arrival of Chrome v. 46 for Windows, OS X and Linux, which brought a few developer features and refreshed the web browser's security icons. With the latest version of Chrome, users on the edge of tech can no longer begin a Google search simply by voice. Sadly, they'll have to do something as archaic as actually clicking their mouse to open Google.com and click on the little microphone icon to activate a voice search.
Google says it removed the feature because not a lot of users actually say "OK Google" to start a voice search. Earlier this week, Google announced that it will remove the Chrome notification center in the upcoming version of its web browser for Windows, OS X and Linux "to keep Chrome simple."
Chrome is the most popular web browser in the U.S. because of its rich features and integration with Google products, but it also faces criticism for the same thing — too many features baked right into the browser make it a resource hog. It appears Google is working to simplify its browser in response to complaints that it takes up too much RAM and taxes a laptop's battery.
The ability to activate voice search by saying "OK Google" certainly eats up a lot of resources, since Chrome is always listening for the hotword. In June, Chrome also came under fire because of this feature, with critics accusing Google of listening in on users' conversations. The particular code for the feature was included in Chromium, the open-source browser upon which Chrome is based. Although Google removed the code in response to the complaints, Chrome still harbored the feature, until today.
However, it's still likely that Google will bring back the "OK Google" hotword, but possibly only as a browser extension that provides users the option to install or ignore. In fact, the feature first became available as an extension in December 2013 before it became a full-blown feature in May 2014.