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One of the great new features of Android KitKat is OK Google, the voice command that prompts your phone to accept verbal questions. The problem is, it’s limited to specific devices and is restricted to the USA and only if you’re speaking English. Let’s change that.

Benefits Of “OK Google”

Let’s be reasonable: this is a “bells and whistles” enhancement. Very few users will consider the inability to use the OK Google hot phrase a deal breaker when buying a non-Nexus 5 Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Approximately a year after Google released the Nexus 4, the company behind Android has come out with its successor -- the Nexus 5. Read More device. In fact, it is entirely likely that the tool will be baked into all official ROMs within the next couple of years, just like many other new features that have been added in the past.

muo-android-okgoogle-speak

However, OK Google is remarkably useful, enabling hands-free access to search, messaging and task creation, all of which are particularly welcome when driving. You might even use OK Google when working on a document on your PC, your phone placed next to your keyboard awaiting commands.

A couple of key problems in OK Google at present limit its use. First, the inability (on some devices) to use the hot phrase from any screen (as with, for example the Moto X How To Get The Best Moto X Features On Your Android Device Today How To Get The Best Moto X Features On Your Android Device Today The Moto X boasts several features you won't find on other Android devices at the moment. The first of these is the Active Notifications feature, which lights up the screen with the latest notification. Another... Read More ); second, the lack of support for some languages.

Fixing these omissions is easy using the free app Open Mic+ For Google Now, which you should install before reading the next section.

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Configuring Open Mic+

After installation, open your app drawer and launch Open Mic+. You’ll be presented with a button to start and stop the tool, but first scroll past this and look at the Activation section. Here you will see options for Hot Phrase Detection, Wave Detection for initializing Google Now with a gesture and Shake Detection, which requires you to wobble your phone to use OK Google.

muo-android-okgoogle-configure

If you’re having difficulty with the OK Google hot phrase not working in your territory or your language, you’ll need to have this option enabled. You should also consider changing the Hot Phrase if you have difficulty saying “OK Google” in a manner that is correctly detected.

muo-android-okgoogle-engine

Open Mic+ uses its own speech recognition software, and in most cases this should be set to PocketSphinx, as shown above, You should only need to use Google if you have set a custom hot phrase in an unsupported language.

With options to Start on Boot, set Blacklisted Apps (typically games and apps that use the microphone) and Read Text Messages (among several others) Open Mic+ will start listening for your commands once you press the play button at the top of the display.

Using Open Mic+ For Google Now

If you’ve seen the voice controlled Google Now in action, you should have a good idea how Open Mic+ works. Essentially, you can now forget it is there – all you’ll see of it is a brief screen each time you say “OK Google” (or your chosen hot phrase) as it detects your voice and opens the speech recognition screen in Google Now.

muo-android-okgoogle-plus

From here, you can begin using the standard OK Google phrases and terms OK, Google: 20+ Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone OK, Google: 20+ Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Slowly, without us noticing, the future has arrived. Read More to find the information you need.

Open Mic+ improves on Google Now beyond the problems of unsupported languages, however. Using this app enables you to utter your hot phrase from any screen on your Android device. Better still, once you’re done with Google Now, the app is still running in the background, so you can once again say “OK Google” to run another search, request another task or ask another question.

This turns Google’s already superb service into something that is more akin to Siri, a service that you can have a hands-free conversation with!

Android Voice Search Is Now OK (Google)

Open Mic+ for OK Google essentially hacks Google Now to enable OK Google in your territory and language and enables the setting of a custom Hot Phrase.

As functional as it is, however, it is really only a short term fix to the problem. Eventually, Google will roll out an improved OK Google, so it will be interesting to see how the developer deals with this!

There have been a few attempts to “fix” OK Google, including a solution that hacks a .BIN file in rooted devices. However we reckon that using Open Mic+ is the best solution, one that vastly improves the existing tool.

Featured Image Credit: PlaceIt.net

  1. Sam
    March 21, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I have actually disabled the "OK Google" command. Partly because I would never use it, and also because it seems like it would waste your battery by constantly working in the background to detect the command.

  2. ATEngineer
    March 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    This is the sort of app that will get absorbed by G because they should have done it themselves.

    On another note - I want to comment on the reference to using such things while driving. Unfortunately, almost everyone thinks they can do whatever they want and bad things will never happen to them. Distracted driving just recently overtook DUI as the #1 cause for accidents. Using your phone while driving in any manner - even just talking - is just not acceptable in any way. Texting while driving is worse than reckless. Voice control is not a fix. No strategy to use your phone to call,talk, or text is workable because you are distracting your mind, not just your eyes. Please. Just don't use your phone in the car. At all. Pull over.

  3. michael
    March 21, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I apologize for the tone of answering.
    I am already an OPEN MIC+ user.
    Still I mean there is a problematic of usage this useful app outside US boundaries due to language problems. I got excited by reading the title of this post, feeling delusion after reading it. So i was referring to the post itself.
    Thanks for answering

  4. michael
    March 21, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Useless article. But nice strategy indeed. You increased visibility of your page. Sorry but we simply do not like tricky stuff.

  5. Edwin D
    March 20, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I agree with Mrx. It also doesnt't work In my country Puerto Rico.

  6. Mrx
    March 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    The title of this article is misleading. It gives the impression that this app actually makes this feature usable in other countries, which it doesn't. It doesnt work in Swedish since it wont talk back to me in any language. I wont change my system language to English either. So even if the app makes it possible to use a custom phrase it is useless without the talk back function.

    • Christian C
      March 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Hi Mrx - thanks for sharing this.

      We'd appreciate other commenters pointing out where it does and doesn't work so everyone can get a good idea of how well the app works.

      It is possible it is simply better on specific models as much as particular locations too, so make mention of this too if you can.

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