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June 14, 2018

Mozilla goes all-in on voice commands with its latest browser concept

by John_A

Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox web browser, is trialing a new browser concept called Scout. The new web navigation tool will have one intriguing feature over its flaming vulpine cousin: Voice support. The idea behind it is to make the entire browsing experience one that can be controlled and enjoyed through vocal commands alone.

With the growth of smart assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, alongside smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo hardware, voice support is becoming increasingly common and is seen by many as the next step in human-technology interaction. Mozilla’s Scout browser is an attempt to bring that level of hands-free interaction to the web browsing experience.

Announced at a talk in San Francisco, ironically called “All Hands,” the Scout browser is designed to go beyond the “limitations and confines of existing platforms.” It is said to be in the very early stages of development, as CNET reports, but a well-integrated vocal command system has the potential to increase Mozilla’s browser usage among those with limited sight who are forced to rely on screen readers with existing browsers.

Mozilla’s talk was aimed at laying out the design principles required for such a browser, including the key technologies and architecture that would need to be put in place to make Scout a reality. Any kind of public release is likely months or even years away at this point.

Over the past few months, Mozilla has made several efforts at modernizing its Firefox browser in an attempt to recapture some of the browser market that remains dominated by Google’s Chrome. Its launch of Quantum has proved to be a moderate success, and new features like password-free logins and increased performance on multiple-core processors have also met with positive feedback from users.

While we’d still rank Chrome as the best web browser today, Firefox offers very stiff competition and is easy to recommend over other popular choices like Microsoft’s Edge browser and some of its antiquated Internet Explorer releases. While we don’t know whether Scout will be able to take a place among that pantheon of greats, it certainly has the potential to stand out.

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