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Mozilla may be working on a voice-controlled browser

An internal meeting hinted at the nonprofit's ambitions.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
June 13, 2018
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Mozilla may be working on a voice-controlled platform of its own. A listing for an all-hands internal meeting appeared about what seems like a new project: Scout. "With the Scout app, we start to explore browsing and consuming content with voice," it read. It's very unclear what the platform may or may not end up doing, as the meeting is focused on technical requirements for a "voice browser" that would, as a stated example, be able to read users an article about polar bears.

Whatever it is, Scout is likely at a very early stage. "This talk will discuss the architecture and key components needed for a voice platform, the required capabilities of those components and the challenges of working with the limitations and confines of existing platforms," the listing read. It's unclear when (or if) we'll hear more about it. When reached for comment, a Mozilla spokesperson said: "We use our internal All Hands conference to come together so we can plan and build for the future. We know there is a great deal of excitement about the early stage projects and initiatives we explore at this event. We look forward to discussing these efforts publicly when they are further developed."

CNET interpreted Scout to be a new voice-controlled web browser. With Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft falling over themselves refining their voice assistant technology (with Facebook not far behind), it's unsurprising that Mozilla would join the fray. Given the company's decades of web platform experience, a browser is surely simpler to implement than a new proprietary speaker. Plus, vocal navigation through a browser setup is probably easier for the average person to grasp.

And, if we're being honest, Mozilla's fierce commitment to privacy and protecting user data makes it a more trustworthy company for vocal interaction. Not just for user data either, which tech titans are struggling to ensure will stay out of other companies' hands, but even simple searches. I'm less likely to ask Alexa dumb questions or make strange inquiries if I know it may hand off my search transcripts or non-identifiable data to developers without my knowledge.

In this article: browser, internet, mozilla, scout, VoiceControl, web
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