Google has taught Chrome to sing.
The search giant has released a new “experimental” extension for Chrome which allows you to instantly share links using audio.
The new extension (‘Tone’) broadcasts the URL in any tab through your machine’s speakers as a little blast of bleeps and bloops, like the ramblings of a deranged R2D2. The sound is picked up by any computer running Tone within earshot, and then pops up a notification which, when clicked, opens the link in a new tab.
The idea is to easily allow teams to share documents and links without copying and pasting links in chat boxes.
“As digital devices have multiplied, so has the complexity of coordinating them and moving stuff between them,” write Google’s Alex Kauffmann (an interaction researcher) and engineer Boris Smus. “Tone grew out of the idea that while digital communication methods like email and chat have made it infinitely easier, cheaper, and faster to share things with people across the globe, they’ve actually made it more complicated to share things with the people standing right next to you.”
Google admitted that the tool (“built for fun in an afternoon”) initially resulted in a barrage of Rickrolls — presumably because it was opening up tabs automatically rather than providing a clickable notification. But they say the tool has proven to be increasingly useful in the real world. It works across Hangouts because it uses the same portion of the sound spectrum as the human voice. “We increasingly found ourselves using it to share documents with everyone in a meeting quickly, to exchange design files back and forth while collaborating on UI design, and to contribute relevant links without interrupting conversations,” Google writes.
It’s also possible to imagine how a system like this could be used for easily sharing links in podcasts or other audio mediums — as long as you were aware the links would be sent in that medium, and were listening via speakers… with Chrome open.
Tone is not the first tool of its type to use sound as a method of sharing links and documents.Chirp is one such app designed for sharing information between mobile phones, while Shazam also has ambitions for helping you to make sense of — and share — the world around you with sound. For now Google’s entry into the space is pretty low-key, but if you want to give it a try it’s simple to download the extension and see if it works for you.