Mozilla Firefox’s new add-on lets you surf the web with your voice

Mozilla is bringing a voice assistant to its Firefox browser. The company has released an experimental, new add-on that lets you surf the web with just your voice. Called Firefox Voice, it’s capable of recognizing natural-language speech and can do much more than simply fire up websites on command.

Firefox Voice offers the ability to perform a whole bunch of browser-related tasks hands-free. Once installed, you can ask it to open websites, switch to another tab, take the current web page’s screenshot, and more. You can invoke it either by clicking the add-on’s button or pressing the keyboard shortcut. Firefox Voice also understands natural language which means you don’t necessarily have to stick to specific commands.

For instance, you can say “Who created Breaking Bad” and it will pull a little Wikipedia snippet with the creator’s details. Firefox Voice can also search inside compatible web pages through URL manipulation. With this, you can, for example, ask it to “look up Florence hotel reservation in Gmail.” On top of that, it can execute a wide range of browser tasks such as reading the page aloud, muting a tab, or translating a website.

Firefox Voice is compatible with media controls as well. So if you’re on a website that’s playing some audio, you can trigger the add-on and adjust the playback without reaching out for the keyboard. Mozilla has bundled a handful of additional handy functions for a more convenient experience, such as assigning a long command a shortcut or pulling up directions, although it’s worth noting that unlike the voice assistants you’re used to, Firefox Voice can’t talk just yet. It only shows the results on the screen.

Mozilla has built Firefox Voice through the Google Cloud Speech Service, which means your audio recordings are processed by both Mozilla and Google. However, the company highlights that you have the option to set your data to self-destruct immediately.

“When you choose to use Firefox Voice, your voice recordings are sent to Mozilla and Google’s Cloud Speech service for processing to provide you with suggested text. We do not keep the recordings or the transcripts of the recordings unless we specifically request it and you specifically consent,” Mozilla says in Firefox Voice’s Privacy Policy.

Firefox Voice is still in beta and to test it, you will have to sign up for it here. Once you’ve registered, look for a download link and instructions in your email inbox.

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