31
Oct
microphone

Easily one of the coolest features of the Moto X (and its sister DROID devices on Verizon) is the Touchless Control function, which allows users to say "OK Google Now" from anywhere and activate voice actions. That functionality is built in to Android 4.4... with some rather hefty limitations.

ok google

First of all, the "OK Google" command will be hardware-dependent. Google isn't saying exactly what the required silicon is, but at the moment, only the Nexus 5 will have access to the feature - even the other Nexus devices due to be updated won't be able to join in. Second, the "OK Google" command works on the home screen in Android 4.4... but not when the screen is off. That removes the "touchless" aspect of Touchless Control, essentially extending the "OK Google" voice command from Google Now throughout Android. It's not clear whether this is a technical limitation (possibly having to do with the contextual cores on Motorola's semi-custom X8 SoC hardware) or simply a feature that's been reserved for Motorola's branded devices.

While current and older Nexus devices won't have access to the system-wide voice command, it's a safe bet that new Nexus phones and tablets (like the rumored Nexus 10 refresh) will. It's also possible that other current phones based on similar hardware (like the Snapdragon 800-powered LG G2) will be able to use this feature, when and if they receive a KitKat update from the manufacturer. 

Source: Android.com

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Sven Joy

    But only if the screen is on.

    • Sean Cummins

      Shwomp womp.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dsilinski slinky317

    I wouldn't say it works anywhere. According to the picture, it only works while on your homescreen or in Google Now. So not in other apps or things like that.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      You're right. Updated.

    • skitchbeatz

      well that's a bit of a bummer.

    • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

      Except - that is not what Paul Wilcox (A Googler) is saying on Google+ he says it will work whenever the device is unlocked and even with the screen off - if you don't have a secure lock screen.

      • http://www.twitter.com/dsilinski slinky317

        Where does he say it works with the screen off? I can only find the comment where he says it works only when the phone is unlocked. This leads me to believe it will listen to you from the lock screen, unless you have security enabled for it.

        • CocoKasper

          I can assure you the Google software is apart of "Prisim" and it will be "listening" to you at all times, just like the spybox 1 with it's Kinect array of cams. sensors and HD mics.
          Gone are the days of privacy from big brother.
          if I can hack into my old cell phone (that a friend now has) and turn the mic on, or snap a picture whenever I want (basically full user access to device)
          think about what the NSA and CIA can do...
          I just read an article that they paid a company to engineer a backdoor into the windows encryption software to allow the NSA into anyone's system.

      • Simon Belmont

        Maybe there's a setting for it? It defaults to only working when the screen is on.

        But perhaps you can set it to listen all the time. I guess we'll find out soon.

      • davvyk

        Ive used the new launcher and search app on my nexus 4. It doesn't work with screen locked, unless there is a setting im missing.

    • CoCoKasper

      you are correct. I'm running KitKat on my (tmoble) Galaxy S4... and the "ok google" only works on the homescreen (because your far left homescreen is google now) or in the app.
      I miss the S voice being able to wake my phone from dead sleep and lock. But since 4.4 is not a touchwiz Rom... I can't install the samsung built apps like S voice.
      But Cyanogenmod along with the Xposed framework makes up for the few things my device can no longer do.
      but because 4.4 is very small, and runs with minimal memory.... it freed up Ram and about 1gig of phone storage.

      Gone are the days of android lag.
      4.4 is more responsive than iOS

  • Thomas Lovett

    Being stuck with Verizon, it seems like the G2 has been my best phone purchase yet. Awesome dev support and 4.4 on the horizon. Hell yes.

    • n0th1ng_r3al

      I wouldn't be too sure about that. I hope you get your 4.4

      • Thomas Lovett

        Very sure about it. There are already about 6 4.3 based ROMs. Once AOKP or CM get to 4.4 it'll be there, especially with the hardware similarities between the two.

        • n0th1ng_r3al

          Oh unofficially through a rom, definitely. I meant from your carrier.

  • Android

    Why is it only for the Nexus 5, not the 4?

    • Thomas Lovett

      Hardware restrictions probably.

      • Android

        I mean custom roms have it, even on older phones.

        • tokuiten

          Yeah, but they eat battery to do it. Check ProductFRED's comment above.

        • n0th1ng_r3al

          custom roms have what?

        • impulse101

          name one ROM that allows you to say "Ok Google" from the home screen without touching anything.

    • ProductFRED

      Nexus 5 has a Snapdragon 800, which has a dedicated language/audio core that listens for audio commands. It barely uses any battery, like on the Moto X. The Nexus 4 has a Snapdragon S4 Pro; you'd see a battery hit because you'd have to keep the phone awake all the time.

      • Chris Lambert

        What about the 600 in the HTC One?

        • tokuiten

          Not 100% sure, but I don't think so. IIRC, the 600 is just an S4 Pro with tweaked microcode. The 800 is actually a new design.

          • Chris Lambert

            Cheers, pushes me towards an unwarranted upgrade. :)

        • Simon Belmont

          Nope. The S600 doesn't have the language processing chip.

          Only the S800 does as far as I know. Sorry.

          • Chris Lambert

            Damn. Thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

      • Carlos Willis

        There is a AOSP kit Kat Rom and the ok Google works perfectly on the nexus 4, there's a video on it by pocketnow

  • Charlie Val

    Finally Google is embracing this.

    Tapping the mic icon or saying "Ok Google" opens up Voice Search, not Google Now.

    Take that MKBHD.

  • Momulah

    Probably to save battery life!!

    • Mlibbey

      let it be an option at least though!

      • Momulah

        Paranoid Android, Cyanogenmod, AOKP, Carbon, PAC, etc....you get my drift XDA RULES....

        • Mlibbey

          for the love of god i hope they implement it ASAP! i want the touchless control

        • ari_free

          Even when the screen is off?

  • Grimmjow

    This is not touchless.

    • Mlibbey

      your right, this is DUMB!

      • Anish Bhalerao

        You're*

        • guest

          Galaxy note 3 will activate s-voice completely touchless (across the room kind of touchless). If you prefer to have google now send ur text, set schedual, play song, do search, etc.. then You can tell s-voice to open google now. . And then start ur "ok google" comands across the room.. no contact at all.

          • Andrew Austin

            Samsung has had this feature since the s3 days and yet googles own flagship nexus 5 doesn't have it?

  • fool184

    to be honest it's pretty useless without the touch aspect.

    • Wozn2

      Pretty useful in the car I reckon, where the device will likely be charging with the screen on and unlocked.

  • Dan

    What type of SIM Card does the Nexus % support? Micro or Nano?

    • Dan

      Nexus 5*

      • Cliffon

        Micro

  • qwer

    Just read/watched some offical content about kitkat (e.g.Android Design in Action) and it also seems like only the nexus 5 will have the new launcher.

  • iliketoseeit

    My question is: how is this different from utter app? It functions very well on my N4.

    • impulse101

      LOL seriously? You never used Google Now if you are comparing it to that Utter crap, pun intended.

  • Matteo Colombo

    Will it be available in all languages or English only?

  • Nexii

    Now they're doing it the apple way. Like how older iPhones don't get airdrop, siri, translucency etc.

    • PhillipCun

      The always-listening feature is enabled by the Snapdragon S800 SoC, which the Nexus 5 has and the N4 doesn't. This SoC was JUST introduced a few months ago. The Moto X has a slightly different chip, but the SoC also has the feature which Motorola worked with Qualcomm for their line of phones.

      • Alex Constantinides

        Well damn, I was disappointed the Nexus 4 won't have it, but if it's due to hardware then can't be that mad really.

  • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc
    • Benjamen Meiers

      It appears you didn't read past his first comment.

      "It's not currently enabled when the screen is off. "

      "Yes it does work when you have your screen lock set to None or Slide. It doesn't work when it's set to Pattern, PIN, or Password. "

      "No, it doesn't work while you're using another app."

      This means that only works on the launcher (including the lockscreen) and when in Google Now.

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Which reminds me... wasn't 4.4 supposed to add the feature where it toggled your lockscreen from secure (pattern/pin) to insecure (none/slide) based on location? Sad to see that wasn't added, so it still requires using Tasker + SecureSettings.

      • asimo

        and from custom lauchers?

        • Benjamen Meiers

          From what I have heard since the launch, It only works where it says "Say OK Google". I don't have the phone yet so I don't know.

    • ari_free

      So is the NSA!

  • tokuiten

    Looking at the official feature list, my guess is that everything with a * indicating it's Nexus 5-only "for now" is something that's part of Google Apps or Google Play Services. Since it's not in AOSP, and KitKat updates haven't been pushed out to any other device, it's "Nexus 5-only for now".

  • Brett

    Booooo

  • Zach Mauch

    Are you positive this won't work from screen off? Engadget is saying it will and didn't they have early access?

  • Ryan O’Neill

    You can't even do "OK Google" from the lockscreen? That would be more useful than the home screen

  • nick

    This feature should work with screen off, Qualcomm showed a demo, its on youtube and Snapdragon 800 does support with screen off, and i'm sure google could easily implement this feature but they didnt for some reason... I mean Google Now is a google feature not a motorola feautre and if the chip supports always listening google can use it.

    • David Gray

      Perhaps this is battery life related? Always listening for a hotword could be battery intensive, and it could go off in your pocket without realising it (when someone says "satay noodles" for example).

      But if that's the case, it should be a feature we can change. I'd love to have this linked to Tasker so when I get in the car and put my phone in against my NFC tag, it'll turn this feature on so I can set reminders or call people on the go.

  • Dave

    I can wake up my note 3 by saying "hi galaxy" with the screen off using s-voice. I had hoped this was going to be possible with Google voice commands since s-voice isn't very good.

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Having that feature on also wastes the battery, because there's no dedicated low-power chip listening, like there is in the MotoX.

      • Dave

        The snapdragon 800 has ultra low power voice activation with the hexagon dsp. Should essential do what the moto x dedicated chip does if you look at what qualcomm says about it. I have not noticed very much difference in battery with this turned on. It is interesting that they haven't pushed this feature at all.

        • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

          Hmm. Well the description in settings (on my Note3) said it used extra battery, which is one reason why I disabled it. If the battery use was negligible, they should've omitted that warning.

          (The other reason I disabled it, is because I loathe SVoice compared to GoogleNow.)

          • Dave

            True I also turned it off after a few days because of how bad s-voice is next to Google now. I might also not be noticing much battery drain since I'm coming from a gnex and the note 3's battery is amazing next to that. I would give it a shot again if it was using Google now

          • vgergo

            UPDATE: I have been using voice wake-up on the Note 3 and battery is still great. I found a solution to start Google Voice Search with the "Hi Galaxy" command, you can read about it on XDA: http://goo.gl/YasRTu

            No root is necessary, the solution involves Tasker, and the trigger word still need to be "higalaxy" but at least Google Voice Search will handle your input.

    • vgergo

      I hope there will be some xda hack to change it to something less embarrassing such as "Okay, google" from the extremely lame sounding "hi galaxy" (We should be glad it's not "I love you samsung") We should start a petition to have them switch from svoice to google now. I mean it's okay to add missing functionality to android, but to replace a superior feature with a Samsung pile of garbage...

  • cmbeid

    I know this article is old, but following the article on installing Google Home allows my Galaxy Nexus to use the "OK Google" command from the homescreen.

  • cpufreak3

    So I installed the launcher on my nexus 4 and this works just fine... ie saying ok google on the homescreen

  • homerograco

    I confirm that "OK Google" command is working from home screen in my 2012 Nexus 7. So, the feature isn't entirely related to Snapdragon 800.

  • Kurt

    Using an AOSP build on my Nexus 4 and the OK Google works in the homescreen and google now so i don't think its only for Nexus 5 (unless it works with the screen off)

  • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

    Is pushing the search button really THAT hard?

  • SilentlyGeeky

    "Ok Google" works from the home screen on my Nexus 7 running 4.4, and even from the home screen of my AOSP 4.3 SGS III with the modified Launcher and Velvet search APK. The caveat has to be that it will only wake the N5 up from screen off - not that it only works on the N5.

  • tBs_Battousai

    I've got a Nexus 5 and the "okay Google" command doesn't work, is it US only?

  • Noel Jose

    hi

    is the leap wifi connectivity issue corrected in 4.4?

  • Abdul Ahad

    Great. This feature is already available on iOS devices in the google app, which they've now decided to bring to Android!

  • guest

    Galaxy note 3 can activate s-voice completely touchless (across the room kind of touchless). If you prefer to have google now send ur text, set schedual, play song, do search, etc.. then You can tell s-voice to open google now. . And then start ur "ok google" comands across the room.. no contact at all.

  • Andrew Austin

    Being able to wake the phone with Google commands would make the nexus 5 a much more fulfilling expirence. To me that's easily considered a set back.