Firefox Voice, More Than Just An Interesting Product
To control your computer with your voice was a science fiction a decade ago, today we have more than a few “excellent” voice assistance. The search giant, Google, has, in my opinion, the best product on the market, but at what cost? Google has strategically implemented Google Assistant in most of its products, sacrificing users privacy.
Before my privacy-minded days, I've used Google Assistant daily. I know how useful and useless these services can be. Since I changed my privacy standards, I had to give up some of the comfort services like Google Assistant provide.
The problem with this technology is how easy it can be to harvest even more data. To make Google Assistant “useful”, you have to enable a bunch of permissions like location, access to the calendar and so on.
So since more and more people are looking for a more privacy-minded alternative, I believe there's a market for a more private voice assistants. Mozilla is aiming at that market, but also wants to improve the experience for all Firefox users.
Firefox Voice is more than fine for a beta product. I've been playing with it all day, and I love how well it works.
Data Collection In Firefox Voice
You can opt-out of all data collection that Firefox Voice does, and that's the reason why I'm going to continue using Firefox Voice. I think it's great when users have options to opt-in or out of the particular feature. Transparent communication with users is why I love and use Firefox products.
Firefox Voice uses a Common Voice project developed by Mozilla. Common Voice is a fantastic project that you can learn more about here. I love how important privacy is to Mozilla.
What Can Firefox Voice Do?
Firefox Voice can do quite a lot for a beta product, but remember that it will only work within the browser. It can control different browser options like reloading the page, scrolling down or opening a new tab. It can also search, which is the main feature of any voice assistant. You can ask different questions about the weather, events, things and more. It can also play music, which is always a nice feature. Full set of commands is available on Firefox Voice Lexicon.
Is It Useful?
As you can see, Firefox Voice can do quite a lot of things for a beta product. I've been trying it all morning, and it works fine for the most part. Sometimes it doesn't recognize some of the words, but overall it's usable. The problem is in what situation would Firefox Voice be used. Whenever you're behind a computer, you have your hands on your keyboard and mouse. Everything you can do with a voice you can click or press on faster. Opening a new tab is way faster with ctrl + T than using the voice command, I tried.
The only feature that I miss is a “hot word” to activate the Firefox Voice. I get it that this feature would be a privacy and security problem and might never be added. Currently, you can use Firefox Voice with ctrl + . shortcut, probably the only way I've been interacting with Firefox Voice for the past hour or so.
I'm happy that this product exists and I hope Mozilla will continue working on this project. It's a bonus feature for Firefox, and it might make the switch to other browsers a bit harder now. I can't wait how Firefox Voice will develop over the next several years, but it might be a core feature of Firefox browser someday. You can try Firefox Voice for yourself here.
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To control your computer with your voice was a science fiction a decade ago, today we have more than a few “excellent” voice assistance. The search giant, Google, has, in my opinion, the best product on the market, but at what cost? Google has strategically implemented Google Assistant in most of its products, sacrificing user's privacy...