Google has just promoted Chrome 34 to the beta channel, bringing with it a few new features and a lot of new apps/extension APIs for developers. Perhaps the most notable new feature for users on Mac, Windows, and Linux is hands-free Google Voice Search, allowing users to initiate a voice search on Google using the “Ok Google” command without the need of an extension:

  • Responsive Images and Unprefixed Web Audio
  • Hands-free Google Voice Search in Chrome
  • Import supervised users onto new computers
  • A number of new apps/extension APIs
  • Lots of under the hood changes for stability and performance

While users have been able to download a browser extension for Chrome since November that allows them to activate a voice search with the “Ok Google” voice command (just like on Android), it the native feature without the need of the extension will land for all Chrome users soon. Here’s how to enable it:

Ok-Google-voice-search

Google says the voice search feature will become available in English for beta users on Mac, Linux, and Windows in the U.S. over the next few days. You can activate it by going to Google.com and clicking the mic icon in the search field (pictured above). Other languages and Chrome OS support is on the way.

In its blog post, Google explained a new HTML attribute for Responsive Images will let web developers “provide multiple resources in varying resolutions for a single image. The browser can then pick the resource that matches the device’s capabilities.” That will help combat “slower page load times, wasted bandwidth and improperly formatted content” that result from serving the wrong image resources to certain devices.

Google has more on the new unprefixed web audio API and  some of the other changes in the Chrome 34 beta on its Chromium blog.

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