Mere days after releasing Chrome 24 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Google on Monday announced the release of Chrome 25 beta. Among the new features is voice support via the newly added Web Speech API, a new tab page with a search box, and the blocking of silent extension installation. You can grab it now from here.

The Web Speech API is a new JavaScript API that lets developers integrate speech recognition into their web apps. After you install the new beta, you can try it out yourself here: Web Speech API Demonstration.

Voice support is something Google has been pushing hard on Android phones but wants to bring to the desktop more and more. Aside from searching, the company envisions users dictating documents, controlling game characters, and even having a freestyle rap battle.

The other two features we’ve heard about before in December. Now that they have arrived in the Chrome beta channel it looks like they will make it to the final release of Chrome 25 in just a few weeks.

Last month, Google began experimenting with a search box in the browser’s tab page as well as keeping queries in the omnibox after a search is performed. Google won’t be adding just its own search engine to the new tab page: it will feature the user’s default search provider. Still, most users will have Google Search, and here’s how that will look:

google chrome tab page Chrome 25 beta launches with voice support and new tab page, now blocks silent extension installs

At the time, Google said it was making the change for the sake of speed, despite the fact that you can search from Chrome’s omnibox: “the goal is to save people time by helping them search and navigate the Web faster.” Meanwhile, we argued that it appears Google has finally given up on trying to change users’ browsing behavior; some people have gotten into the habit of immediately going to a search engine when they start their browsing session, or opening a new tab, and they simply don’t use the omnibox as a search box.

A week after the new tab search box, Google detailed how it would disable external extension deployment options on Windows by default as of Chrome 25, and retroactively remove all extensions previously installed using them.

Here’s what will happen when you launch Chrome 25 for the first time and you already had previously-silently-installed extensions:

Sideload wipeout final 3 Chrome 25 beta launches with voice support and new tab page, now blocks silent extension installs

Chrome 25 will give you a list of the extensions it is disabling. If you want to keep some of them, you can click on “Extension Settings.” Otherwise, you can click on “OK, Great.”

When it first revealed the change last month, Google said it was making the move to help its users. Although many install extensions strictly from the Chrome Web Store, some have extensions that were silently installed without their knowledge, as the feature was “widely abused by third parties” according to the company.

Google emphasized Windows application developers should ask users to install Chrome extensions from within the browser; the best way of doing so is to use inline installation.

Here is the full Chrome 25 beta changelog:

  • Improvements in managing and securing your extensions
  • Continued testing of search and the new tab page
  • Better support for HTML5 time/date inputs
  • Javascript speech API support
  • Better WebGL error handling
  • And lots of other features for developers

We will update you when the final version of Chrome 25 ships next month. In the meantime, more technical details are available on the Chromium Blog.

See also – Google launches Chrome Beta channel for Android 4.0+ phones and tablets, releases version 25

Image credit: icava Technologies