Dolphin develops Sonar to talk to your browser

Forget Siri. Dolphin powers up a new feature called Sonar that lets you talk directly to the browser.

Dolphin's Sonar lets you talk to your browser.

(Credit: Dolphin)

Dolphin Sonar is a new built-in feature for the Dolphin Browser (download) that lets you control the browser by voice, the company announced yesterday. The feature is a first for mobile browsers.

Currently available only in the Android version of the browser, Sonar can be used to search the Web, open or close tabs, and perform basic page navigation. Dolphin's head of marketing, Edith Yeung, says that the company has been working on it for more than half a year. "What we want is for people to forget about typing," she said in an interview at CNET's San Francisco office last week.

Sonar has been integrated into Dolphin in a way that feels quite natural. You activate it by either shaking the phone with the Dolphin app open, or by holding down on the Gesture button in the lower left corner. Tap the microphone to turn Sonar on, and then speak.

It works by hooking into Google's Voice API, but Yeung said that the server work is their own implementation.

In testing, I found Sonar to be surprisingly flawless. "Facebook CNET" instantly loaded the CNET Facebook page; "Share this" opened the Share options; "Google cheese" brought up search results. A quick flick of my wrist to shake the phone brought up Sonar without fail.

Sonar is basically Siri for the browser, and if it catches on, could positively impact the struggle between apps and browsers. Certainly, other apps that use voice could learn a thing or two from Dolphin.

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