Google Tone Lets You Share Links with Sound

Josh WolfordTechnology

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Google's latest Chrome experiment is equal parts cool, possibly annoying, fun, first-world problem solving, and pointless. Ok, maybe not equal parts. It's probably a combination of fun and annoying – depending on who's using it.

If you've ever wanted to send links to your co-workers with sound, now is your chance.

Say hello to Tone:

"As digital devices have multiplied, so has the complexity of coordinating them and moving stuff between them. 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. Tone aims to make sharing digital things with nearby people as easy as talking to them," says Google.

Once you install the Tone extension, all you have to do it click the green Tone button and it'll send out a beep. That beep contains your link information. Any devices within earshot (and which also have Tone installed) will receive the link via notification.

"Tone provides an easy-to-understand broadcast mechanism that behaves like the human voice—it doesn't pass through walls like radio or require pairing or addressing. The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing. However, because many laptop microphones and nearly all video conferencing systems are optimized for voice, it improved reliability considerably to also include a minimal DTMF-based audible codec. The combination is reliable for short distances in the majority of audio environments even at low volumes, and it even works over Hangouts," says Google.

Of course, it's not perfect. But it works a good amount of the time. Room acoustics, mic sensitivity, and speaker volume can all factor into Tone's effectiveness.

Does this solve a problem? I don't know – when I send links to people it's usually through messaging apps. But hey, it is kind of cool – and a pretty high-tech way to Rickroll someone. You can try it for yourself here.

Josh Wolford

Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.

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