Google Now is pretty amazing, and it just keeps getting better as Google finds new ways to expose knowledge from its massive data repository. It's hard not to become addicted to everything that Now can offer. But what if you just got your hands on Google's latest flagship phone, went through the setup process, and then discovered Google Now doesn't work? Not only have some Nexus 5 owners had this experience, a few of them have even seen Google Now stop working across all of their other devices.

The common symptoms seem to include sync errors with the Google account and consistent crashing when attempting to opt into Google Now on the device. The scary part is that some people have also seen the problem spread to other devices sometime after setting up their Nexus 5. One of the affected users, Jess Newcomb, has posted this video which demonstrates the issue and some of the bizarre behavior related to accounts.

A few people have had luck by repeatedly signing out and back into their accounts, but some say they've tried this upwards of 30 times without luck. Still others with rooted phones have been able to fix the issue by removing Google Search and installing an older version, then opting into Google Now, and finally updating the apk back to v3.0. This solution is still very hit-and-miss, but if you're comfortable with modifying your phone and technically voiding your warranty, the steps are outlined in this post. Another user got it working after doing a factory reset on the device and going back through the setup process without a SIM card in the phone, but this has seen similarly limited success.

One important thing to consider for those with a Google Apps Business Account: Google Now might simply be turned off. If this is the cause, it should have already been obvious since the feature wouldn't have been working on other devices, either. Still, it's worth mentioning in case some people are only just discovering Now. To enable it, an administrator for the account can follow these instructions.

It seems the most likely explanation may have to do with Location History. One user received word from Google that Location History has become a hard requirement for Now to operate. Unfortunately, this should mean people in countries where location tracking is prohibited will be missing out on the super-intelligent service. Obviously, this will also affect anybody with Location History disabled, either with a Google Apps account or on their personal account. For Google Apps users, this can be modified in the dashboard. Regular users can visit this page to check their own settings. Even if you have Location History enabled, a couple of people have solved their problem after disabling and re-enabling it, then signing out and back into the phone with their account. By all appearances, some accounts may have some corrupted data that can be fixed by toggling this setting.

Without a single clear explanation for how Google Now is breaking, it's difficult to recommend a course for fixing it. Hopefully, some of these methods will give afflicted users a shot at solving this. Google is advising affected users to send feedback through Settings -> Help & Feedback -> Send Feedback because it will include additional information about the device and how it is configured, this way there's a greater chance of tracking down common cause. Given the strategic importance of Google Now, this is certainly something the company will want to resolve quickly.

Source: Google Product Forum

Thanks, Elvi

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • http://blog.tonysarju.com/ Tony Sarju


    • toyanucci

      I fixed my problem by uninstalling updates from google play services. I then cleared the settings for google search and it started working. Enabled google now then reupdated google play services and all is well again.

      • Jess Newcomb

        All good but the Nexus 5 won't go back to the previous search without rooting it. There is someone that fixed it by rooting their phone uninstalling then installing an older version activating and updating but since this would void the warranty on a new phone not really sure I want to go there.

  • Bluewall

    Well, this is not good but I'm still golden on my Nexus 5 for now.

    PS : Wtf wit this nail o_o

    • BrandoHD

      Damn, you made me see it

    • flosserelli

      3:46 — It's a mutant nail growing on his thumbnail. I shall call him "Mini Me"

    • Tony Byatt

      That nail was the first thing I noticed. Where's his left hand? Please...

    • Guest

      Glad I didn't click on it.

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

      He probably works for a living - that's what's up with his nail.

  • SkullOne

    I saw this two nights ago with my wife's Droid RAZR. She had received a CLNR from Verizon and I got that error while setting her phone back up. All I had to do to correct it was clear the data from the Search app and everything was fine. She has had no issues since.

  • Ptichalouf

    Just cancel all Authorization here : https://security.google.com/settings/security?pli=1

  • Chris

    Ew that was disgusting I can't even watch this video...

  • PrDawg

    Only thing I am seeing is the continuous search is again disabled. Looking into that now. May have to find the old hack. On rooted and unlocked Verizon S3.

  • Chris Lachance

    I had this same problem. I spent hours trying to fix it the problem. The problem actually lives in permissions. Go to Google Dashboard ben revoked duplicate permissions power cycle your phone and resync. Your welcome!

  • MobilegamerfanChicago

    Yea mines just did it as well. Couldn't even search anything thru the search bar. Google now and OK Google wasn't working. Turned phone off n on and it started back working.

  • philnolan3d

    Works fine on my RAZR Maxx and Xoom tablet, before and after the update from yesterday.

  • Dragonscourgex

    I installed the update on my Galaxy Note 10.1 last night. Google Now will no longer open up and just crashes right off the back. I reported it and I didn't update on my phone yet.

    • Jess Newcomb

      Dragonscourgex this is what I am afraid of. My nexus 10 has not updated to KitKat yet and I am afraid when it does now functionality will go away. Googles only answer so far is to send a new phone. But since this is not the cause i really don't want to keep messing with new phones. I guess it is to just keep me busy.

  • http://lewisleong.com/ Lewis Leong
  • Sir Charles

    Still is working fine the little I use it. But since Google f'd up the way the whole home screen works and purposing integrating the Google Now on the left side, they deserve this. It was great until they f'd up the left Home instead of how it was.....

    • Jeff Miller

      Because they force you to use there launcher huh.....jeesh

      • Sihawk

        You can use any launcher you want.


    Minor bug in Launcher2 that came with KitKat: (not on Nexus 5)

    Flick to remove icon causes strange behavior: https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=62248

  • Ben Said

    Broken for me on my Nexus 4. Except it doesn't work at all and I don't get a network error. Nothing to do with my account(s) Not sure if this is the same thing or something different. Anyway, both need fixing.

  • Fiorta

    I'm having issues with calling and texting ONE contact. Annoying.

  • Ricardo

    If anything this shows that staged roll outs are a good thing even if they are annoying.

  • The_Chlero

    This has to be the worst Android OS update yet.

    • u_must_heart_the_g

      Don't say that around here.
      The zombies around here get mad if you complain when there's good reason to complain about Googles failings.

  • Pancake345

    The Google experience is currently riddled with bugs. I can remove an app and still attempt to add it's widgets, cause the semi-transparent notification bar to show black on the home screen, make it force close, cause google now to stop working, get a little + icon in the page indicator, and a few other odds and ends. Really disappointing, the product is not fully baked.

    • Sir Perro

      Version 0.9.xxx, I installed it today from the APK in the Nexus 4

      Just wait for it to be mature I guess

  • The_16th_Doctor

    The only issue ive seen so far is the wifi connection problem

  • akshay7394

    Is anybody else having a problem where Google is suddenly hearing "Mom" as "Mum"? :S

  • Sabin Bajracharya

    I have a galaxy nexus and If I turn off the google now then i cannot turn it on in the latest version! So I had to unistall to stock version then enable it and reinstall latest version!

  • http://blog.zopim.com/ Abhiroop Basu

    It's working fine for me but I disabled it as it was completely destroying my battery.

  • abey86

    i just flashed my nexus 4 with factory 4.4 image. Everything works perfect except google now. when i open google now, it doesn't load default cards. but searching works fine. any idea?anybody with same experience?

    • Tahsin Ahmed

      I don't have it working either. Also no google now on the left for the GEL launcher. had it working on 4.3

    • Pasha Maisuradze

      Same on my nexus 4 :(

  • Bro

    Nexus5 has NO option for sending feedback within settings menu as instructed..

    Want to tell them that face unlock fails to open front camera after sometime.

    Power. Cycle re enables its use

    • Ascii89

      It does, don't go to the general settings though, long press on an empty space in the home screen, then go in those settings. There you will find the Help & Feedback option

      • Bro

        Thanks for that bud.

  • Cerberus_tm

    "One user received word from Google that Location History has become a hard requirement for Now to operate."

    Google, oh, Google. No evil?

  • jessnewcomb

    @clach02:disqus been trying your fix revoked permissions for all but 7 google services rebooted and still the same issue. Did factory resets multiple times and cleared app data multiple times still will not connect to now servers on that account. It will however connect with a backup google account I have. While the message says problems connecting to server check connections and try again. I have continuous connection have done it with both wifi and LTE running reset and started over without sim all to no avail.Adding my back up account however works fine. I can have both accounts installed use now on the backup account and my main for everything else but this defeats the purpose of having now syncing contact calendar and location info if it is not with your main account. Google has sent me a replacement phone which I set up with exactly the same results. So far the only thing they have said they can do is send another phone but I fail to see how the phone can be the issue here since it works with another account.

  • jessnewcomb

    Oh and for everybody here I am a left handed carpenter and have hit that thumb multiple times with my hammer that is where the nail comes from., :)

  • Lukas Laske

    Sadly, I can confirm that it is not only the software that sucks... I've had already two replacement phones because one device had a broken vibration motor and the other one had a defective microphone. Seems like they are having some issues with the build quality of this phone at LG. I'd recommend all of you who is willing to buy that phone to wait at least till January for revised batches!!!

  • Jaroslav Klapálek

    I have this problem as well on my Nexus 7 II + mobile websites are broken. But I was able to fix Google Now. If you can, try to switch your hotspot to WPA Mixed mode. It worked for me.

  • Jess Newcomb

    Okay I have it working now. The solution seemed to be related to my people details syncing. I noticed it would fail in this account most of the time so I decided to go into my app drawer and open the people app. First I went through and deleted any and all duplicates then proceeded to remove any contact I felt I did not need after removing a bunch of contacts I signed out of my account then signed back in. Voila the google now option was there and all is working now. Not sure if it was the duplicates confusing it or if there is a hard number on how many contacts you can have with the nexus 5

    • Jonathan Mallett

      This didn't work for me unfortunately. It's a shame it seems like the only sure way to get it to work is to root and void the warranty :(

  • Melanie Zammit

    This is what worked for me (without factory reset or root):

    1. Turn on Developer Options: Settings > About Phone > tap 'Build Number' several times until you are notified that you are a developer

    2. Allow Mock Locations: Settings > Developer Options > check 'Allow mock locations'

    3. Download and install 'Fake GPS location' from Google Play

    4. Set a fake location to somewhere where Google Now is enabled (ex. London): open 'Fake GPS' > click on the search button > type the location > click OK > click 'Set location'

    5. Make sure that the fake location is started when the device is switched on: open 'Fake GPS' > go to settings > check 'Start on boot'

    6. Switch off your phone

    7. Take out your SIM

    8. Switch on your phone

    9. Deactivate Android Device Manager: Google Settings > Android Device Manager > uncheck both options

    10. Disable Google Play Services: Settings > Apps > All > Google Play Services > Disable

    11. Disconnect your account: Settings > Google (under subtitle 'Accounts') > Search > Accounts & Privacy > Google Account > Sign out

    12. Connect your account: Settings > Google (under subtitle 'Accounts') > Search > Accounts & Privacy > Google Account > click on your email address

    13. Enable Google Play Services: Settings > Apps > All > Google Play Services > Enable

    14. Stop fake GPS: open 'Fake GPS' > click 'Stop'

    15. Uninstall 'Fake GPS' if you want

    16. Activate Android Device Manager: Google Settings > Android Device Manager > check both options

    17. Switch off your phone

    18. Put your SIM in

    19. Switch on your phone

  • Arisildo
  • Raymond

    I had this problem , then I was able to fix it .. I first took my sim card out . 'don't let the phone restart when you do' just click on an area of the screen away from the restart option .. go to 'backup & reset' and remove all the 'ticks' for backup data and automatic restore,then do factory data reset ... when the phone is booting back up don't connect to any WiFi or your Gmail accounts just let it load on it's on , when its finish load add a WiFi connect first ,then go back to the home screen and hold down for 'Widgets' and select the goggle now widget .. it should ask you for a Google account to work , then add your Google account , it should then bring up the option to to use Google now,should work after that, then you can put back in your sim card.

  • Simos Katsiaris

    i backuped my google search data with titanium backup and restore them on any new rom and that pretty much solves the problem

  • ahmed nassrulah

    I fixed in my Samsung note 3 with google now launcher by going to Google now setting -voice -turn OFF google now .. then I cleared all opened applications ... then clear ram memory .. then go back and turn google now ON... and then worked like normal without restarting the phone and else ..
    Hope this helping u guys on ur phones.
    By the way my English language setting on UK