Chrome 46 will no longer listen in to everything you say just on the off chance that you invoke a Web search with the magical utterance “OK Google.”
Since Chrome 35, released in May of last year, Chrome on Windows, Linux, and OS X has included an “OK Google” extension as a built-in feature that lets you speak to the browser and conduct searches without having to actually do anything so gauche as use the keyboard. Merely visiting google-dot-com was enough; from there, speaking did the rest. This feature generated controversy in June after it turned out that Chrome’s open source sibling, Chromium, was automatically downloading a binary-only package to support this same functionality. The mix of automatically-installed binary and open source did not sit well with users of the software, and Google responded by removing it from the open source version.
VentureBeat reports that it’s now gone from the regular browser, too. While Chromebooks and Android phones will still support “OK Google,” the desktop browser does not. In news that will surprise no-one—because really, who likes talking to their computer—VentureBeat writes that the feature was pulled because virtually nobody ever bothered to use it.