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Google launches Chrome 25 with voice support and app launcher for developers

Google has released updated versions of its Chrome browser, adding voice-based sevices to the stable version and the Chrome app launcher to the dev channel, among other things.

Chrome 25 is now available, and it adds the speech-recognition technology that emerged in the beta version last month.

"[The] Chrome Stable release includes support for the Web Speech API, which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their Web apps," Glen Shires, Google software engineer and speech specialist, wrote in a blog post.

In introducing the feature last month, Shires urged users to "imagine if you could dictate documents, have a freestyle rap battle, or control game characters with your browser using only your voice."

Developers who take advantage of the technology could open the door to features like composing an email via the spoken word, as well as dictating searches, documents, and other text input.

The Chrome 25 update also disables silent extension installs in Chrome for Windows. "This keeps Chrome fast and safe by ensuring that you consent to every extension that's installed on your computer," Shires wrote.

The browser will auto-update to Chrome 25 for those who already have it; otherwise, it's available for download.

Chrome's Windows-based dev channel, meanwhile, was updated with the Chrome app launcher, a dedicated spot beyond the browser where users can access their apps.

"This is the same experience as the app launcher on Chromebooks, but for other platforms," Google said in a separate blog post. "It's available on Windows now, and will be coming to Mac OS X and Linux soon."

The dev channel is a pre-beta version of Chrome that's intended for developers and enthusiasts. "You'll need to install a Chrome packaged app, such as IRC client CIRC or Text Drive, in order to try out the Chrome app launcher," Google said.

The release comes as Google took the wraps off its latest Chromebook, dubbed the Pixel for its high-density ppi.