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In a media event in San Francisco, Google announced new features including Voice Search, Search by Image, and Instant Pages. Interestingly, these features will only be available through the Chrome or Firefox browsers by using the appropriate plugin.

Voice Search
This feature, quite popular on mobile phones, has finally hit the desktop version. Currently, it is only supported by Google Chrome 11 or higher for obvious reason. Initially, it will only support the English language. Oh yes, it does require a mic.

Apart from the endless fun of throwing any weird question at your computer, this feature can actually be useful. Not just useful, but very useful - if you are not comfortable with hard-to-spell words (like me). It will also come handy when you can't type a query because your hands are full, say while having lunch. All this hinges on the assumption that it will actually understand what you're trying to say.



Search by Image
Google has been providing image results on text queries, but now it also supports the converse. If you are curious about an image you happen to have on the computer, just drag it into the search box on (http://images.google.com Alt text: Search by Image) images.google.com. Google's computer vision techniques will then match your image to other images in the index and provide a "best guess" text description of the query, as well as similar images. This can also be done by pasting the image URL in the search box.



Instant Pages
This feature will help users get to their desired search results faster. According to Google, when you perform a search, it will pre-render certain web pages in the search result that are most likely to be visited by you. The company is currently building this feature into Chrome. Instant Pages is expected to go beta later this week.



These added features are promising and look likely to be embraced by users in short order. However, Google has turned a blind eye to other popular browsers. Is it possible that these features have more to do with Chrome's market share than to providing more convenience to users?

Posted 9:49 AM

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