The recent Google Search update brought more than just a Google Now widget. As discovered by the development team of utter!, a slick voice command application, the update allows the use of the offline speech recognition that came about with Android 4.1 for third-party applications.
Previously, only Google's applications could take advantage of the downloaded speech dictionaries, which allowed for offline voice typing. With the recent changes, applications like utter! can now access your downloaded dictionaries to do their thing faster, and without a data connection. Everyone loves faster, and I can think of plenty of instances that I've had my Nexus 7 somewhere without a connection. The developers at utter! are the first to make use of this, be we expect any application that uses voice recognition to quickly follow suit.
To enable all of this, you'll need to set up your languages. Not all phones support offline speech recognition, but for those that do setting it up is simple. Open Google Now settings, and under "Voice" download your offline speech recognition files. You'll need to be running some flavor of Jelly Bean and have access to Google Now, of course.
We're going to take a good look at utter! (it looks like an awesome app and it's clear the developers are savvy) in the coming days, and be on the look out for more applications that take advantage of this new feature.
More: XDA. Thanks, IAmAN00bie!