There are a few noteworthy changes in the latest Google Search update, but we've spotted one more that deserves some exploration. Ever since Google rolled out its new voice interactions as part of Google Now, settings control has been strangely absent. With v3.4 it's kind of there.

Update 6/30/14: Search v3.5 seems to have added Bluetooth support, but it still doesn't do what you really want it to.

2014-05-01 01.55.51 2014-05-01 01.56.27 2014-05-01 01.56.58

In the new Google Search, you can say things like "turn WiFi off," and the device will automatically open the correct settings menu. It does not, as you might hope, actually toggle the setting. Additionally, this seems to only work for WiFi, Airplane Mode, and GPS right now. Other settings like Bluetooth still just perform a Google search like it doesn't know what the hell you're talking about. Update: Seems to work on volume settings (open volume, turn up volume, and so on) and display (lower brightness, open display settings, etc).

So, Google is clearly working toward something here, but the feature is not fully baked. It might be handy in a few cases in its current state, but it's mostly a novelty for now.

[+Eric Liou – Thanks, +Chris Clark]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Guest

    I don't think there are permissions for controlling Wi-Fi and stuff, so unless Google adds them, this is all an app can ever do.

    • Hothfox

      Apps like Tasker can turn devices settings on and off, and change levels (brightness, volume control).

      • Matt Dowdy

        Use the Google search api xposed module and set an autovoice recognised profile to turn on wifi or whatever you like and execute the tasker commands with Google search by voice

        • Fatty Bunter

          Just doesn't seem worth the hassle for such a small pay-off, no?

          • Matt Dowdy

            If you're a tasker user anyway then it's well worth the effort especially if you have a moto x, the gel launcher or the s5 touchwiz launcher all with hands free Google search activation, that's the beauty of android right there though, we're free to choose to do it if we want to

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I see no reason why they can't and haven't yet.

      • Nathan Borup

        Patent trolls is why. The nexus one had this capability and google took it away because Apple was going to sue them

        • pfmiller

          The Nexus One had voice controls for settings? I don't remember that. Was that feature still in the final N1 update?

          • Nathan Borup

            I don't believe so. I thought they took it out

    • Eric

      Yes, there is permission that lets apps do it.


    • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ artesea

      Wifi, brightness, volume should all be possible, but GPS is restricted. I believe to stop apps from starting it to get a fine location without consent, which is a shame because I'd like tasker to turn it off whilst at home/office.

      • apfelcake

        For GPS try secure settings(Plugin for tasker)

        • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ artesea

          That setting requires root, which I'm not going to do, due to other apps I require running root detection.

          • apfelcake

            Mmh... Google needs to fix this... I don't no why they changed it that you need root for turning GPS on and off...

          • kashtrey

            I believe it's a security thing. If it wasn't secure and an app maliciously switched GPS on, without you noticing the icon, you could be tracked. I personally don't care, but the conspiracy people would get the media in a frenzy.

          • apfelcake

            Google could show up the "location" icon everytime an app is doings this!

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

            Google does show up the location icon everytime any app access location - on my Nexus 4 running stock.

          • kashtrey

            It does do that, which is why I said "without you noticing the icon." I'm not saying it's a reasonable concern (I think it's dumb) but we've been through a lot of similar events (iPhone GPS tracking storage for one). I'm just saying, they likely just want to avoid the potential of risk issues.

          • Romdude

            I understand other apps but surely Google could make an exception when it comes to their own apps. Privacy be damned but if I am already signed on to my phone with my google account, it should at least let other google apps work.

          • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

            Have you tried RootCloak?

          • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ artesea

            Unfortunately the apps I want are in the list "Apps with calls most likely can never be directly intercepted by Xposed"

      • kirk

        Are you not rooted?

        I can do this with Automateit Pro (similar to tasker, but different).

  • idlukakas


    • Miro Costa

      "Open Volume" also works.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Nice catch.

        • miri

          Also works with display settings.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Cool, thanks.

  • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

    Aaand that's gonna need Android 4.4.4 to work properly.

    • Tomáš Petrík

      Three numbers "4" in a row? HL3 confirmed!

      • Bob G

        Three 4s in a row? In Chinese, this is the death of Android!

        • Kevin Kuo

          No, it means this version of Android is going to be the killer.

          • Powered by Madnesz

            The killer of Holo.

  • blakew595

    Let's now I have 2 options to turn on my wifi
    1 tell Google now to turn on wifi and put me to the wifi settings page where I press the wifi on toggle or
    2 pull down the dam shade and hit one button and bam it's on

    • Fadakar

      Damn, I hope my wife gets turned on just by pulling down the shades.

      • Konstantinos Pap


    • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

      Ok Google, turn on my wife
      I wonder what that command would do

      • theunknown

        If your wife is like Rosy from The Jetsons, an Android ;-) then she'll definitely be turned on

      • MrSean490

        "Device will begin testing vibrate function for next 45 minutes"

    • Konstantinos Pap

      I wouldn't want to see the time when Google would turn my wife on instead of me. :P

      • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

        Good Guy Google
        Doing the boring part for you

    • polesmoker99

      I prefer asking Google Now what time it is. There's no easier way to do that.

  • Stephen Blake

    I got it to go to Volume settings. That's a command I've tried on occasion as one of my most used Google Now commands is "Open Pandora" and I get all annoyed when my volume is down.

  • Renan Lazarotto

    Looking forward to this. Can be quite useful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    It's sad that S-Voice did this in my Note 2 quite a bit ago. :/

    • hp420

      It's even sadder that you compared s-voice to google now, as if s-voice can even compete.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        Of course, but it did have some common sense functionality that Google still doesn't.

  • alacrify

    I'm still amazed that I can set a reminder by voice - but then have to look at the screen and tap to confirm. Adding a voice prompt "say yes to confirm" seems trivial at that point, and would make it 10X more valuable to me.

    • dogulas

      There are a thousand improvements they should have implemented by now if they wanted to stay competitive. Why does something like this take so long? Sometimes it seems like they have a neglected intern as the only person working on some stuff.

      • dizel123

        Do you think that all they have is an intern working on this stuff?

        • Matt Terk

          I just hope that after he gets done with this we can get him working on Google Voice

      • Fiorta

        Stay competitive? Google Now is the best there is. If they get blown away by something else then say that...

        • aadsada


          • turdbogls

            pffft. there is only a handful of things siri can do better IMO.

          • polesmoker99

            There *are* only a handful of things Siri can do better, IMO.

          • mewikime

            There *is* only a handful. Since it's just one hand.

          • polesmoker99

            Since *its* just one hand.

          • RajivSK

            Guys, please, stop it. There's only so much fail a comments section can handle.

          • polesmoker99

            *Guy's* please, stop it. *Theirs* only so much fail a comment's section can handle.

          • mewikime

            Or are you realising you're incorrect?

          • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

            I do hope you are sarcastic right now....

          • polesmoker99

            What's that?

          • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

            You 'corrected' Guys and there's incorrectly. So I was wondering if you were serious or kidding.

          • polesmoker99

            No, you are incorrect in thinking that I corrected them incorrectly.

          • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

            Learn English, guys and there's was correct.

          • polesmoker99

            Yeah, so I was being sarcastic, if you couldn't tell by the entire series of posts i made. Bravo.

          • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

            Sadly enough, there are nimwits online who are THAT bad in English and haven't ready any other comment of yours to tell the difference.

          • polesmoker99

            Sadly enough, *THEIR* are nimwits online who are THAT bad in *english* and haven't *RED* any other comment of "you'res" to tell the difference.

          • LeeJS

            No. "It's" in this instance is a shortening of "it is", therefore the apostrophe is entirely appropriate. The only time "its" without an apostrophe is correct is when it's possessive.

          • LeeJS

            Hang on..did I just miss a joke?

          • polesmoker99

            No. "It's" in this instance is a shortening of "it is", therefore the apostrophe is entirely appropriate. The only time "its" without an apostrophe is correct is when *ITS* possessive.

          • mewikime

            *It's*. Because it's a contraction of "it" and "is", and is not belonging to the hand.

          • LeeJS

            There *are* since there are multiple things.

          • polesmoker99

            *THEY'RE* are since *THEIR* are multiple things.

          • mewikime

            There are multiple things, yes, but they are in one handful. It's like saying "there are a cup of pens". No. " There is a cup of pens".

          • polesmoker99

            There *IS* multiple things, yes, but they are in one handful. *ITS* like saying, "There are a cup of *PENISES*." No. "There is a cup of *PENISES*."

          • mewikime

            You are welcome. I used that analogy knowing you would not be able to help yourself but go there.

          • polesmoker99

            *YOUR* welcome. I used that analogy knowing you would not be able to help yourself *BUTT* go there.

          • afazel

            There *are* only a handful. Since "are" is the verb that modifies "things" and not "handful."

          • Fiorta

            You serious? Have you used both? Siri is a joke

          • David

            At least it isn't S-Voice

          • kashtrey

            Actually when it comes to interactions Siri has a lot of advantages over Now. It has features like setting toggles, better integration with apps, and quite a few other things. Now is faster and better at language processing but to be so narrow minded that you don't want competition to push Google to improve Now, then you're being silly.

          • Fiorta

            I never said they didn't want to improve Now. He said "if they wanted to stay competitive" making Google Now inferior, which it's not.

          • Scott Tucker

            In regards to voice commands, Siri, IMO, is the clear winner. The automatic data provided by Google Now is well beyond what Siri is currently doing.

          • jnt

            You can do a lot with Siri with just your voice after the initial "wake up" of Siri - multiple levels of interaction as well. With Now, there's still so much that requires interaction after the fact, it's not quite as intuitive.

          • http://googleplus.VoluntaryMan.com/ William Thieme

            I'd like to preface this with the fact that I don't like Siri or iOS.
            However: Have you used Siri lately? Because it works much better than it used to.

          • Mayoo

            Even Apple fanboy I know are saying Siri is complete crap.

      • asdakkkkkeeeed

        That's definitely true. They roll out two and a half features per month. Some of it seems like an afternoon's worth of work. Google's app devs are ridiculously slow

        • morteum

          I'm very much a novice programmer, but it seems like a lot more than just an afternoon's work to me. Still, they are definitely slower than they could be.

          • pfmiller

            Back in the 90s I put together some voice control AppleScripts to access my music with prompts for confirmation in an afternoon or two using Apples speech libraries. Once you have the voice recognition and synthesis done that's the hard part, putting together some prompts with confirmation using those is a cake walk.

        • Joris Griffioen

          Yeah because they one have a few devices to support /s

          Get real, if they make one mistake to and create a bug the world ends for you people.

          Quantity or quality, you decide.

          • asdakkkkkeeeed

            Look at pushbullet's products. Nothing you said makes sense

      • Nathan Borup

        One word... Patent trolls

        • Romdude

          Exactly, for a while, they couldn't even allow certain searches because of Apple's patents on search. Pathetic that Obama vetoed the Samsung win and yet we have Apple using the same thing to stiffle innovation.

          • polesmoker99

            Welcome to Obama's America.

    • Carlos Kazam

      I think it has a short timer, if you don't modify it is save like it undestood

    • archercc

      And the funny thing is the prompt is already built in there. You get confirmations when calling someone with multiple numbers.

    • MrNinjaPanda

      The function is already there, at least for me. I can say "remind me to buy milk tomorrow" and Google will show the reminder and ask if I want to set it, and wait for me to say yes.

  • miri

    So it's basically the same as the camera shortcuts added a few weeks ago.

    And funny this comes the same day Microsoft adds natural language search for system settings to Windows.

  • dogulas

    This is coming extremely slowly. The app "Utter!" had this a year ago. Do they have like one intern working on this stuff?

  • Jeffrey Linton

    APK? Still waiting for gplay to let me update it.

  • Fiorta

    Don't see how opening search and dictating the command is any easier or faster than using quick settings...

    • Felipe

      Once they manage to have it always listen like the Moto X, this feature will allow hands free control of the phone settings.

  • ChristianAhlin

    Hm, doesn't seem to work on a Swedish locale even if language in Now is set to US.

    • Teodor Axel Johan Jönsson

      Works here in Sweden for me. Language is US. And it opens the wifi settings/volume setting

      • ChristianAhlin

        Do you have Swedish or US locale (chosen language at installation)?

        • Teodor Axel Johan Jönsson

          When I installed the rom, Swedish, just to get the swedish keyboard under the installation but after that I change to US

  • vgergo

    Warning: the new Google Search breaks XGELS

    • http://DragonFlames.com DragonFlames

      Break it? It *wrecked* it!

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Us only I guess?

  • Waleed Al Suwaimel

    I think that Google are waiting until the "OK Google" hot word recognizes the owner's voice only before it can toggle things that can effect your data plans usage or make your device go offline. Google I/O?

    • CoreRooted

      That's exactly what I was going to say. I really don't want to trigger Google Now and have someone else be able to toggle my settings and I can see where that would be an issue in a few instances. I'm regularly in areas where people are troubleshooting devices. So there are times when people are saying "trun wifi off" or "turn wifi on" in range of my device. Until Google Now has owner recognition (or custom hotwords at least), I would rather just go to the settings page itself.

  • Gaël Beaudoin

    Does not work in France, not that it's surprising though.

  • coolscrotie

    Really hope that Google fixes all the loose ends in Google now soon, it's just so frustrating to use it. So powerful, yet with so many unnecessary flaws.

  • Humberto Hernandez

    Isn't it easier and less silly (talking to a phone in the street?) just to pull down the notification shade and turn off/on wifi? I mean... ????

    • dogulas

      So...you've never been driving and needed to have your phone do something that you forgot to do before you got on the road?
      Some states have laws against touching your phone at all while driving. This kind of thing would come in handy then (if it were actually a complete feature, which it isn't yet).

  • turdbogls

    its times like this that I am glad I invested my $3 way back when and bought tasker....I just dont even worry about this stuff any more...lol

    however, I would LOVE to be able to tell G-now to "turn on Bluetooth when i get to work" or "turn on wifi, and turn down the brightness at home" and just have it remember it.

    but still, something tasker can already do....

    • Cory S

      Meh. All that stuff would had been really cool a few years back when managing that stuff actually impacted battery life. Now, I just really dont worry about it.

      • mobilemann

        this. tasker is now relegated to "oh i might be able to make an ifttt trigger with tasker".

  • Simon Belmont

    Good gravy. I hope this isn't how they're actually going keep the implementation.

    It's almost as annoying as the original Quick Settings were all they did was take you to the associated settings page and not toggle the setting on or off (though Android 4.2.2 fixed that with a long press). So close, yet so far away.

  • mobilemann

    This destroy's the xposed google now API, so if you like your plex system or tasker auto voice intergration, you shouldn't be happy about this!

    • br_hermon

      I think you mean "Google Search API"? I just was going to try that combined with this to get autovoice everywhere but GSAPI doesn't see my AV plugin. Looks like what you're mentioning is the culprit?

      • mobilemann

        yeah, they are one and the same. It was fixed for 3.4 by the guy who makes GEL experience, after he fixed his apps. Mohammad doesn't seem to want to update this anymore.

  • get

    I'm going to another search engine. I cannot believe that you can turn off app solutely annoying volume. But if you don't update you can navigate to maps. Really ridiculous Google! Really stupid! Lacks common sense.

  • John Motschenbacher

    maybe.....just maybe someday Google Now will eventually be useful for something besides telling me where i can eat.......maybe

  • Cory S

    I've noticed on 3.5 set a timer sets an alarm again, instead of an actual timer.

    • miri

      Still sets a proper timer here.

      • Cory S


    • Anthony Castanza

      Are you running the L preview? It definitely sets an alarm instead of a timer on L.

      • Cory S

        Ahh thanks

  • polesmoker99

    Google Now can't turn things on, Google Now can't turn things off. You can't explain that.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    And still English US only, right?

  • Rmetz527

    This is a much needed improvement, but they need to do more than just open the appropriate spot in settings. I have ver. 3.4, and if you say 'turn off Wi-Fi' it just takes me to the Wi-Fi settings and I have to toggle the setting myself. I hope in 3.5 that changes

  • Theratchetnclank

    This has been in search since 3.2?

  • Anthony Castanza

    Did this update also break "set a timer" for anyone else? Mine has reverted to setting alarms with that command again (L Preview).

  • Dean

    Still can't say OK google everywhere

  • Nirmal

    I am using Google search 3.5 and Bluetooth command is running well when I say Bluetooth settings it displays

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