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Chrome removes always-on 'OK Google' voice search on desktop

Chrome is removing one of its flashier features: the ability to say "OK Google" and automatically activate a voice search on the desktop. The feature is no longer present in the browser's latest version, Chrome 46, although you can still activate a voice search by clicking on the microphone button.

Google seems to be paring down Chrome

Google says that it's removing "OK Google" because it hasn't "seen many users utilize this feature" on Windows, OS X, and Linux. That's pretty much the same reason that Google gave earlier this week when explaining why it would be removing Chrome's notification center, saying that "few users visit" it. The feature's removal appears to have been first spotted by VentureBeat. It'll still be available on Chromebooks.

While it's a surprise any time Google removes features, the decision makes enough sense. Google appears to be starting to pare down Chrome in response to years of complaints over its bloated performance and impact on laptop battery life. A feature like "OK Google," which requires the browser to start constantly monitoring voice input, is absolutely going to be a drag, so it may have been an obvious starting point for speeding up the browser.

Update October 16th, 1:55PM ET: this story has been updated with context from Google.