Google To Add Native Dictation Support To Chromebooks

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Google is presently working on implementing native support for dictation into Chrome OS, as suggested by a recently discovered code change request found in the operating system's main repository. Users will be able to prompt compatible Chromebooks to start transcribing their speech by using the CTRL + Alt + S shortcut which may also be remappable. Following the activation of the feature, Chrome OS will display a sound icon to let users know they can start dictating, the code change request reveals, without clarifying where exactly on the screen will the icon be displayed.

Separate invocations will be handled as individual dictation sessions, whereas the system will understand silence as a signal to end the current session, according to the same source. It remains unclear whether the length of the silence interval used by the functionality will be customizable by the user and what its default value will be set to. The Google engineer who submitted the code change request explicitly stated that the feature is presently in a highly experimental stage of development, suggesting it could undergo some major changes before the Alphabet-owned company deems it ready for inclusion into a stable build of its operating system. Chrome OS can already take advantage of apps that offer dictation as an accessibility feature but still doesn't have native support for it, with users seeking to dictate text to their Chromebooks having to go through another service like Google Docs or an extension. Once dictation makes its way to the Canary channel of Chrome OS, it will possibly have to be enabled with a flag and in the operating system's accessibility settings.

The speech-to-text algorithms used by the feature will presumably be the same ones utilized by the Google Assistant which is already highly capable of transcribing English speech, having been trained to do so with the tech giant's machine learning techniques. The availability of the newly discovered feature hasn't been detailed by the source, though an early 2018 beta launch seems like a probable scenario. Dictation support should ultimately make Chrome OS even more accessible and help Google's efforts to advertise Chromebooks as truly versatile offerings suitable for every demographic.

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