What do a BlackBerry Priv, Galaxy S7 edge, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Alcatel Idol 4S, a Huawei P9, Honor 8, and an HTC 10 have in common? Well, they're all Android phones, of course, but they all lack a common feature: 'OK Google' hotword recognition while the screen is off (off the charger). In fact, this feature is so rarely found on Android devices that you can almost call it a Nexus (or soon, Pixel) exclusive these days. And even then, not all Nexus devices seem to be able to do it. The proper name for this feature is "always on."
The reasons for 'always on' being disabled on so many other devices are seemingly myriad - some OEMs claim security issues, others have conflicting products (cough S Voice cough) with similar functionality, and some may be limited by the capabilities of their chipsets or a perceived potential for power drain. Read More
Google has been on a roll this week with app updates and there have been some pretty cool new features, not the least of which makes comic books more awesome. One of the latest arrivals to the list is a beta update to the titular app. Known originally as "Search," the Google app now encompasses a custom launcher, the Now stream, Now on Tap, voice commands, and more. The recently announced Google assistant is on course to join the party, promising to bring many of these technologies together to deliver something not unlike the computer from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Read More
Not only is Google announcing all sorts of stuff today, but it's also updating a slew of its apps (it is Update Wednesday, after all). Today's Google Search update brings a huge improvement: "OK Google" hotword detection to any screen... even the lockscreen. If you're plugged into a charger, the feature will even work with the display off. This lines up with the earlier rumor that it was coming eventually.
Once enabled (Google Now > Settings > Voice > "Ok Google Detection"), you'll have to enable Audio History and say the words three time in order for Now to register your voice – much like setting up the hotword detection on the Moto X and recent Droid devices. Read More