Mozilla announced the retirement of the two Firefox extensions Firefox Voice and Firefox Voice Fill yesterday. Firefox Voice was labeled beta all the time. Mozilla released the source code of both extensions to the public.
The main reason for retiring both extensions is the decommissioning of the Mozilla Speech Proxy Server on February 28, 2021. The extensions require the server, and since it is decommissioned, will not work anymore after February 28, 2021.
Both extensions will be retired on February 19, 2021 as a consequence.
Mozilla will notify users about the retirement by updating the extensions. The update will inform users about the upcoming retirement of the extension, and the extensions will uninstall themselves automatically on the day of the deadline.
Firefox Voice Fill started out as an experiment back in July 2017. Mozilla ran its Test Pilot program at the time to test features and functionality without implementing it directly in the Firefox browser. Multiple important contributions were tested as part of the program, e.g. Firefox Containers, Min Vid or Tracking Protection, and included in later versions of the Firefox web browser.
Firefox Voice Fill introduced speech recognition and form filling using voice commands. Basically, what it did, was add support for filling out text fields on websites using speech.
The Firefox Voice Beta launched in January 2020. It introduced voice controls to desktop versions of the Firefox web browser. The extension allowed users to control browser functionality with speech, e.g. to run searches, control media playback, open specific sites, or control browser functions such as closing tabs or copying links.
Mozilla did not reveal why the Mozilla Speech Proxy Server is decommissioned. The extensions had 5800 (Voice Fill) and 11600 (Voice Beta) users and a 3.8 stars (out of 5) rating each.
Low user numbers could have played a part, but those could have been raised through promotions. Server costs could play a role as well as Mozilla started to retire several of its products and services last year in an effort to make the organization leaner.
The Firefox Voice GitHub page reveals that the Voice team is no longer with Mozilla as part of Mozilla’s restructuring.
Mozilla has realigned its priorities, and Firefox Voice will no longer be supported by Mozilla. The Firefox Voice team will be going to new things, no longer with Mozilla.
Now You: would you use voice to search or control the browser, if supported by it?