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.
Now that the KitKat update has started rolling out to various Nexus devices, we're, unfortunately, seeing no traces of the Google Experience Launcher, which confirms an earlier report stating as much. No GEL means no transparency in the default and a pretty barebones boring AOSP launcher. It also means no Google Now integration and no "Ok Google" hotword support while on any home screen.
Boring Nexus 7 launcher
However, not all is lost.
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.
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.
Google Search is a really handy feature, but are you using its voice features to the fullest? Probably not, unless you're Jean-Louis Nguyen. This YouTube user posted a video last year showing off everything Google Voice Search was capable of, but that was early on. Google Search has evolved a lot in the past year, and Nguyen got in touch to let us know there's a new demo video. It's over 10 minutes of voice search queries, many of which you probably didn't know were possible.
The Google Search 2.7 APK teardown is now officially the longest one in the history of Android Police. We find a bunch of interesting things, post about them, continue digging, and what do you know - keep running into new stuff. I'm fairly positive there won't be part 4 this time around, as we've squeezed out every last drop from v2.7, but as they say - never say never.
If you haven't read the first two parts yet, you should do so now to cover the bases.
Just when you thought we were done with the already rather extensive Google Search teardown, another wild teardown appears. Yup, still the same good old Search 2.7, but this time, we found a hidden feature that you will really want, even more than custom hotwords. At least I think you will.
Turns out, there's a secret flag within Search that lets you use the hotword, set by default to 'Google,' anywhere in search results instead of just the home Activity.
A couple of days ago, Google dropped a pretty sweet but surprising late-night update to Google Search with version 2.7.9. You can read about the announced features and download the APK here, if you haven't yet. After the dust settled, I jumped right into the multitude of under-the-hood changes and was able to uncover quite a few things not included in the changelog - both ones that are coming in the future and ones that are already here.
Google Now is quickly becoming an excellent aggregator for all the information that most users need on a regular basis – be it weather, that day's schedule, tracking shipments, and so much more. Aside from its already-useful functionality, though, Google has been working towards making most actions voice-searchable. For example, you can tell Now to set a reminder, play a particular artist in Music, and more. Today's Search update brings more voice actions to existing functions, making it even easier get quick access to important information: